Illinois Wins 2005 Big Ten Tournament Title

March 13, 2005

Box Score |  Quotes |  Notes

CHICAGO - The championship game of the 2005 Big Ten Conference Tournament featured a rematch from 2004's championship game. In that edition of the title game the University of Wisconsin defeated the University of Illinois 70-53. The Fighting Illini got their revenge here Sunday (March 13) with a 54-43 win over the Badger's to claim their second Big Ten tournament title.

The finals appearance was the fifth in school history for Illinois and its first title since 2003 when they defeated Ohio State 72-59 in the finale. Wisconsin was making its second consecutive title game appearance after last year's win. On the season, Illinois improves to 32-1 while Wisconsin drops to 22-8.

"We are real proud of our accomplishments," said Illinois head coach Bruce Weber. "The Tournament was not one of our goals that we talked about before. Once we got here and had a chance to play in the United Center in front of the Illini crowd, I think our guys got excited."

In the first 10 minutes of the opening half of play Illinois used solid rebounding to build a quick six point advantage over the Badgers. The number one seeded Illini found themselves up by at least five points throughout most of the first half. Illini forward Roger Powell Jr. in one offensive possession pulled down three rebounds for Illinois but the Orange and Bluer were not able to convert any of the second-chances for points. 

Playing in their third game in as many days, both teams showed signs of fatigue from the long weekend. Several attempts at long-distance shots fell short either clanging off the front of the iron or missing the rim entirely.



"We were playing pretty good basketball," added Weber. "It's hard to play three games in a row. It definitely makes a difference in your shooting. I thought we had a good start today - defended well, rebounded well." 

With less than a minute remaining another long-distance jumper by Illinois came up short but James Augustine was there to grab the rebound and slam it home to put Illinois up 24-18. Wisconsin quickly pushed the ball up-court where guard Shariff Chambliss setup Clayton Hanson for a three to cut the lead back down to six. Illinois came down the court and held for the last shot of the half. Junior guard and Big Ten All-Conference first-team member Deron Williams put up a jumper just before the horn sounded to give Illinois an eight point advantage going into the locker room.

Both teams scored quickly as the second half began. Augustine tallied the first points of the second stanza with less than 20 seconds off the clock. The junior received a pass from Luther Head and laid it in for the easy two. Wisconsin would answer back with an Alando Tucker lay-up followed by a three from Chambliss to climb back within five.

The Fighting Illini would go on a 7-0 run over the next four minutes with Powell Jr., Williams and Rich McBride all scoring in that time-span. Wisconsin finally scored with 13.41 off the clock on a Zach Morley jumper but Illinois would answer back on a three by Head from the top of the key with 12:45 remaining to put UI up 38-25.

Wisconsin forward Mike Wilkinson hit a pair of free throws but Illinois answered back when Powell Jr. hit a three with 11:55 to go making the score 41-27 Illinois. A senior, Wilkinson was six-for-six from the free throw line on his way to eight points.

 The score remained the same until 8:47 in regulation. Another short three point attempt by Wisconsin sent Illinois' Dee Brown on the fast break. Brown and Head had the two-on-one advantage on UW's Hanson who was unable to stop Head from slamming it down to put Illinois on top by 16. Head continued his good play with another tri-lighter off a Deron Williams pass with 7:33 left on the clock to make the score 46-31.

After hitting the game winning three against Iowa in Saturday's (March 12) semifinal game, the Badger's Alando Tucker was not about to go down easily. The sophomore hit a three at 5:47 to cut the deficit to within 10. Tucker finished with a team-high nine points.

Wisconsin would make it a 10-0 run with a three and a pair of free throws from Kammron Taylor. Illinois broke the Badger run on a Luther Head lay-up with 4:20 remaining in the second half.  Head finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Free throws by Roger Powell Jr. and James Augustine along with good defense in the closing minutes sealed the win and the tournament title for Illinois. The two Illini forwards finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds and 12 points and nine rebounds respectively while defensively the Illini did not allow any Wisconsin player to score in double-figures.

"I've coached teams that shot 20-some percent and still won games because we were drawing fouls," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "One of the ways you can shot 20-some percent is if guys are blocking shots and fouling out of the game. If you can get it down to the last few possessions, a lot of times against bigger teams, that's how you can beat them."

After the tournament trophy was presented to Illinois the following individuals were selected to the 2005 Big Ten All-Tournament team by the media; Vincent Grier of the University of Minnesota, Zach Morley and Mike Wilkinson of Wisconsin and Luther Head and James Augustine of Illinois. Augustine was also honored as the Player of the Tournament.