SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (AP)—Back in his home state, Warren Carter helped Illinois stay there a little longer.
Carter, a junior from Dallas, hit the winning layup with 1.3 seconds left to give No. 15 Illinois a 55-54 win Friday over Wichita State in the South Padre Island Invitational semifinals.
Illinois (4-0) advanced to Saturday’s championship against Rutgers, which beat Kent State 55-52 in Friday’s other semifinal.
“Warren made a good catch, took his time and made the basket,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. “Its a great win for Warren.”
The Shockers’ Karon Bradley hit a 3-pointer near half court after Carter’s basket, but officials ruled he released it after time expired.
Carter, who was open near the basket, scored the last of his eight points after receiving an inbound pass from Rich McBride with two seconds remaining. It was Illinois’ second lead of the second half, after James Augustine’s jumper with 4:46 left briefly put Illinois ahead 51-50.
“It could have been better if I was in Dallas and all my buddies were there, but it’s still a good feeling though,” Carter said. “The coaching staff did a good job of drawing up the play. Dee (Brown) came off the screen so of course the team is going to guard him because he is an All-American. I just got open.”
Augustine led Illinois with 14 points and Shaun Pruitt added 10. Paul Miller scored 18 points for Wichita State (3-1), which led for most of the second half after trailing by as many as 11 in the first. Miller also had five rebounds, one steal and was 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
Kyle Wilson’s layup with 1:24 left gave Wichita State a 54-53 lead before Carter’s winning shot.
“We guarded our tails off all day,” Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon said. “We got every stop we needed until the very end.”
Wilson had 10 points for the Shockers, who shot just 35 percent from the field in the second half.
McBride finished with eight points and hit a 3-pointer with 5:41 left that cut Wichita State’s lead to one.