CHICAGO, March 17 (UPI) -- After being a non-factor in the opening 20 minutes, junior guard Frank Williams scored all of his 20 points in the second half Sunday to push fourth-seeded Illinois past Creighton, 72-60, and into the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois (26-8) will take on top-seeded Kansas in Midwest Region at Madison, Wis. In a rematch of a Sweet 16 game last season.
Coming off a last-second, 83-82 double overtime victory against Florida, Creighton was trying to join Missouri as the second No. 12 seed to reach the final 16. But the Blue Jays (23-9) had all kinds of trouble attacking the taller, more physical Fighting Illini and wore down in the second half.
A six-minute drought proved to be Creighton's undoing after it closed to within 52-49 on Brody Deren's jumper hook with 10:09 remaining. Illinois outscored the Blue Jays 12-0 over the next six minutes, opening a 64-49 lead on Williams' jumper with 4:13 remaining.
Williams missed the only two shots he took in the first half, but he made four three-pointers in the second half.
Kyle Korver scored 14 points and Terrell Taylor added 10 for the Blue Jays, who fell behind, 12-3, in the first five minutes and never recovered.
Illinois earned its second straight trip to the Sweet 16 while coach Bill Self will be making third consecutive appearance as he led Tulsa to the round of eight in 2000.
Taylor erupted for all 28 points in the second half and overtimes in Friday's win after being held scoreless in the first half. But their was no such explosion against Illinois as he made just four of 14 shots.
For most of the first half, Creighton had more turnovers than field goals. The Bluejays made just three of their first 16 shots to go with eight turnovers and trailed, 22-11, midway through the opening half.
Coach Dana Altman went to a trapping defense, allowing Creighton to creep back into the game. Taylor's three-pointer pulled the Blue Jays within 25-23 with 4:25 left before Illinois settled for a 31-26 halftime lead.
Creighton stayed in the game by crashing the boards. They finished with a surprising 34-27 rebounding edge, including 17-6 on the offensive end. However, they could not overcome 37 percent shooting.
The Bluejays closed within 31-29 on Korver's three-pointer, but Williams took matters into his own hands. His first basket of the contest gave Illinois a 38-29 lead with 18:20 to play.
After Williams' three-pointer gave Illinois a 52-44 lead with 11:36 left, Taylor answered with one of his own before Deren's jump hook pulled Creighton within three.
But the Bluejays went cold and Brian Cook's layup started the decisive 12-0 spurt. Cook finished with 16 points.