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Updated: Saturday, March 13, 2004 3:13 AM EST
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(13) Illinois 71, Indiana 59

INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- For the first time in nearly two decades, Indiana will not be a part of the NCAA Tournament.

Luther Head scored 29 points and Deron Williams contributed eight of his 20 in a decisive late spurt as 13th-ranked Illinois ended the Hoosiers' 18-year NCAA run with a 71-59 victory in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference tournament.

"(Indiana) played their hearts out and we could never really break it open, but it was a well-earned victory," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.

Two years after losing to Maryland in the championship game, Indiana (14-15) will miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985. The Hoosiers, who owned the second-longest active streak in the country behind Arizona, have qualified for a postseason tournament each year since 1978.

"I thought was a great basketball tournament for us and really taught me what a basketball team is all about," said Indiana coach Mike Davis, whose team defeated Ohio State in the first round.

Illinois (23-5), which captured its first outright Big Ten regular-season title since 1952, posted its 12th straight victory and is trying to become just the second top seed to win the conference tournament. Since the advent of the tournament in 1998, the only No. 1 seed to win was Michigan State in 1999.

The Fighting Illini will face Michigan in Saturday's semifinals.

"This is just one game," Head said. "Today was my day. I was feeling it and they gave me the ball. If there's any time you want to step up, this is the time."

Walk-on Mark Johnson scored 16 points for the Hoosiers, who erased a 12-point deficit and tied it, 54-54, on two free throws by George Leach with 4:53 remaining. But Indiana could not overcome a handful of lengthy scoring droughts, shooting just 34.5 percent from the field (19-of-55).

The Hoosiers finished with a losing record for the first time since going 7-17 in 1969-70.

The Illini appeared in control after Head's dunk made it 47-35, but the momentum turned when Illinois guard Dee Brown picked up his fourth foul with 9:26 remaining.

Bracey Wright, who was held to 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting, tried to spark the Hoosiers, hitting a 3-pointer with 8:58 left to make it 47-40. It was his first basket since the 14:33 mark of the first half.

Wright made two more hoops to pull Indiana within 52-49 before Johnson's 3-pointer tied it. But Williams' driving layup gave Illinois the lead for good, 56-54, with 4:12 remaining.

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