See images from the wins by Michigan State and North Carolina on Day 8 of the NCAA Tournament.
ROSEMONT, Ill. - Few outside the Illinois team knew it, but Luther Head was on coach Bruce Weber’s “questionable” list a day before Thursday’s regional semifinal against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Head played with a pulled right hamstring in the Illini’s 77-63 win. Still, he played 33 minutes, scored 12 points, handed out six assists and had two steals to complement the efforts of Dee Brown and Deron Williams.
“Actually, he played a gutsy performance,” Weber said. “He had a big 3 at end to kind of ice it. He just gutted it out. I’ve got to give him a lot of credit.”
Head tweaked the hamstring in practice on Monday and was held out of Tuesday’s workout, Weber said. He was involved in Wednesday’s public practice, but spent most of his time shooting.
“I didn’t know if he would play yesterday, to be honest,” Weber said
But Head was in the starting lineup for the 36th consecutive game this season. He said he wouldn’t have missed it.
“It was a great experience coming in here and seeing all the fans close to you and seeing how loud they were,” Head said. “They gave us a lot of energy on the court, I know they kept me going.”
While Williams and Brown each scored 21 points, Head filled in the blanks. He hit a layup off the dribble that gave Illinois a 53-39 lead with 14:58 to go and made a nice pass to Roger Powell Jr. for a dunk to make it 70-53.
He also had a key steal that led to a Powell layup and hit a 3-pointer that put Illinois ahead 75-63 with 1:14 to go.
Now, Illinois trainer Al Martindale will go to work to get Head ready for Saturday’s regional final.
“I’ll get a lot of treatment here and it’s going to help it out (to) hopefully come back strong the next game,” Head said.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
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