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Updated: Sunday, March 14, 2004 7:34 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(10) Wisconsin 70, (13) Illinois 53

INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Devin Harris was serenaded with the chant of "One more year!" The Big Ten Conference teams may have seen enough of him.

Harris scored 29 points to lead the 10th-ranked Badgers to a 70-53 rout of No. 13 Illinois and their first ever Big Ten tournament title.

"We couldn't beat them (Illinois) out for the regular season title, but this was pretty good," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. "And what can you say about Devin Harris? He came off screens and made his shots."

Harris, the Big Ten Player of the Year and the tournament Most Valuable Player, scored 14 straight points for his team, the last basket in that span increasing Wisconsin's lead to 46-28 with 13:32 left.

Illinois (24-6), the regular season Big Ten champion, pulled no closer than 13 the rest of the way.

"It's great for our school to win this conference tournament," said the 6-3 junior guard. "We've won the regular season (title) before, but never the conference tournament, so this is special to all of us."

Wisconsin (24-6) earned its sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and received the sixth seed in the East Rutherford region. The Badgers will face Richmond in the first round.

The loss snapped a 12-game winning streak for the Fighting Illini, who were last beaten at Wisconsin on January 24.

"We just didn't have it today, but I'll use it as a positive," said first-year Illinois coach Bruce Weber. "I told them that the last time we lost to them (Wisconsin), we went on to get 12. It only takes four wins to get to San Antonio (for the Final Four)."

Illinois was given an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament and a fifth seed. The Fighting Illini will meet Murray State in the Atlanta region.

Harris scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half in Wisconsin's semifinal win over Michigan State and followed up Sunday with another big performance, hitting 10-of-16 shots and punctuating it with a dunk off an alley-oop with 51 seconds left.

The Badgers raced to a 24-11 lead in the first 12 minutes as Harris hit a pair of layups and two free throws and Mike Wilkinson and Freddie Owens each scored four points.

A 3-pointer by Dee Brown pulled Illinois within 26-19 with 4:10 left in the half. But Harris scored the last three points of the first half and his team's first 11 points of the second half to put the Badgers back in control.

Wisconsin built its biggest lead at 57-36 on a 3-pointer by Ray Nixon with 6:58 left.

Wisconsin hit 53 percent of its shots while holding Illinois to 33 percent shooting. Brown led the Fighting Illini with 15 points, but the rest of his teammates made just 10-of-37 shots. Deron Williams finished with 14, but made just 4-of-13 shots.

"We're disappointed," Williams said. "We wanted to win both the Big Ten tournament championship and the regular season. But things didn't go our way."

Illinois again played without starting forward Roger Powell, who missed his second straight game with a severe headache.


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