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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENT

SOUTHEAST REGIONAL : GAME REPORT: Illinois 90, USC 77

March 15, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

FIRST HALF IN REVIEW

The only Trojan who had previously played in an NCAA tournament game was Rodrick Rhodes, a senior transfer from Kentucky, and he didn't start Friday. Gary Johnson did, drawing two fouls in the first 44 seconds. Illinois scored the first five points and never trailed. Rhodes looked like he might single-handedly keep the Trojans in the game after he came in with 17:15 remaining, but it was too big a job for one man. The persistent double-teaming of Illinois point guard Kiwane Garris was not a good strategy because it left other players wide open. They turned into the Shooting Illini, building a 17-point lead.

* USC'S LEADING SCORER: Rhodes, 9.

* USC'S LEADING REBOUNDER: David Crouse, 4.

* OTHER STUFF: Apparently feeling it wasn't fair to take advantage of their height advantage, the Trojans tried to match the Illini from outside. They failed. They shot only 43.5% from the field, one for seven from three-point range. . . . The Trojans were merely even in rebounding, 14-14, against the more aggressive Illini. . . . USC Coach Henry Bibby, probably more frustrated with his team than the officials, drew an early technical foul.

* ILLINOIS' LEADING SCORERS: Kevin Turner 16, Chris Gandy 8, Garris 8.

* ILLINOIS' LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bryant Notree, 3.

* OTHER STUFF: The Illini shot 63% from the field, which pretty much tells their story offensively. Turner was four for six from the field, including three three-point baskets. . . . Illinois Coach Lon Kruger matched Bibby substitution for substitution, using even Jelani Boline for a minute. A walk-on who transferred from Oregon State, he scored only one point all season.

SECOND HALF IN REVIEW

Finally implementing their plan to work the ball inside, the Trojans began chipping away immediately at Illinois' 15-point halftime lead. Crouse never asserted himself, as the Illini feared, but Jaha Wilson did. The Trojans also started guarding Turner, who scored only two more points. With 5:17 remaining, the score was tied, 69-69. But Boseman fouled out 23 seconds later, liberating Garris. He scored 10 of his 27 points in the next four minutes, all on free throws, and the Illini rolled.

* USC'S LEADING SCORERS: Wilson 12, Rhodes 10, Boseman 8.

* USC'S LEADING REBOUNDER: Wilson 7, Rhodes 5.

* OTHER STUFF: The Trojans didn't shoot well from any range, making only 38.9% from the field--four for 12 from three-point range. But they were particularly awful from the free-throw line at 58.3%. . . . Largely because of Wilson's physical play inside, the Trojans outrebounded the Illini, 20-18.

* ILLINOIS' LEADING SCORERS: Garris 19, Chris Gandy 13.

* ILLINOIS' LEADING REBOUNDER: Gandy 6.

* OTHER STUFF: The Illini shot 56% from the field. The active Gandy was particularly effective, making six of eight shots. But both of his misses were three-point shots as Illinois converted only one of seven from that range. . . . In stark contrast to the Trojans, the Illini were 15 of 16 from the line. Garris was 13 of 13. . . . Their woes inside were exaggerated when forwards Jarrod Gee and Notree fouled out and Gandy finished with four fouls.

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