James Augustine scored a career-high 23 points and Jack Ingram added 12 more in the top-seeded Illini's 71-59 win over ninth-seeded Nevada in the second round of the NCAA tournament Saturday. Augustine also grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and had two steals.
Illinois' famed guard trio of Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head combined for 31 points, but most came late in the game as the big guys took center stage. Williams scored five points on free throws down the stretch.
The Illini (34-1) reached the regional semifinals for the second straight season and fourth time in the last five seasons. They will play No. 12 seed Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday in the Chicago Regional at Rosemont, Ill.
As they did in their first-round win over Fairleigh Dickinson, the Illini broke open a close game with a big run to start the second half. Nevada's Nick Fazekas scored the first basket after the break to bring the Wolf Pack (25-7) to within 34-29, but they would never get as close again.
Deron Williams hit a layup and Augustine and Roger Powell Jr. scored inside baskets to start a 23-8 run that gave the Illini a 57-37 lead with 10:32 to go. Williams had a length-of-the-court drive and Head drained a long 3-pointer during the run.
When Williams, Head and Brown couldn't find the range early, they started looking for openings inside. Augustine, the most valuable player in last weekend's Big Ten tournament, got going on a lead pass from Head for a dunk, then proceeded to score 15 more points before halftime - including 11 of the last 13 before the break as the Illini built a 34-27 lead.
Ingram, subbing for Powell, was open when Augustine wasn't and hit all four of his first-half shots. He finished 6-of-7 from the floor.
At the other end of the court, Augustine, Ingram and Powell used a trapping defense to shut down Fazekas' lane to the basket. Fazekas, the Wolf Pack's top scorer this season, wound up 5-of-20 from the floor, scoring 11 points.
Kevinn Pinkney led the Wolf Pack with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Mo Charlo added 12.
Williams finished with 15 points and 10 assists while Head scored 14 for Illinois. Brown, who left the floor in the first half because of a cramp, scored only two points, but had four rebounds and five assists.
The victory also gives Illinois the most wins by a Big Ten team, breaking the mark it shared for two days with Michigan State, which went