Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Jan. 13, 2019

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Jan. 13, 2019

On Wednesday night at State Farm Center, in a men's basketball series that dates back to the University of Illinois' very first season, the Illini and Minnesota Gophers square off for the 190th time.

Illinois has dominated play over the years against Minnesota, winning nearly 65 percent of the games. That edge includes a couple of games in 1977 that the Gophers actually won but were forced to forfeit due to NCAA sanctions levied after it was discovered that Mychal Thompson had illegally sold his complimentary tickets.

Other highlights of the Illinois-Minnesota basketball series include:

— The very first Illini-Gopher game, played on Feb. 2, 1906, was just the fourth of the 2,785 games Illinois has played prior to Wednesday. The 1905-06 season marked Minnesota's 11th season of varsity basketball. By the way, the Gophers won that first meeting by a score of 32-19, then went on to win the Big Ten championship in the inaugural season of conference play.

— Of the previous 90 games played in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois has won nearly 79 percent of the time (71-19). Between 1979 and 2010, the Illini assembled separate home-court winning streaks of 16 and 11 games, losing only once (1996).

— An Illini player has scored 31 points or more nine times versus Minnesota. The highest point total was rung up on Feb. 18, 1966 when Don Freeman scored 37. Eight days later in Minneapolis, Freeman tallied 35 points against the Gophers.

— Former Illini Bill Hapac set a Big Ten single-game points record on Feb. 10, 1940 when Illinois spanked Minnesota, 60-31, at Huff Gym. His 34 points eclipsed the previous mark of 30 points set by Indiana's Ernie Andres in 1938. Hapac's record-setting basket came on a 35-foot bank shot.

— Illini teams wrapped up Big Ten championships in 1915, 1924, 2001 and 2002 with victories over Minnesota. One of the most dramatic baskets in Illini history came in that 2002 win at "The Barn." Frank Williams made a driving layup with 2.9 seconds left to cap a 10-0 game-closing run. It gave Illinois a share of the four-way tie for the conference title.

— Three Illini — George BonSalle (24 points), Paul Judson (24) and Bruce Brothers (23) — topped the 20-point plateau in the Jan. 30, 1956 game against Minnesota. Fifth-ranked Illinois defeated the Gophers, 95-84, in Minneapolis.

— One of the most impressive performances in recent years came on Feb. 8, 1990, when Marcus Liberty (33 points) and Kendall Gill (26) led No. 12 Illinois past No. 17 Minnesota, 99-72.

— On March 9, 2003, a 22-point performance by Brian Cook on "Senior Day" secured him the Big Ten's individual scoring title, 13 points more that Ohio State's Brent Darby.

Illini Birthdays:

Today: Cliff Jones, football (60)

Monday: Steve Yasukawa, gymnastics (63)

Tuesday: Roger Powell Jr., basketball (36)

Wednesday: Charlie Danielson, golf (25)

Thursday: Doug Altenberger, basketball (55)

Friday: Geronimo Allison, football (25)

Saturday: Ashley Cathro, soccer (19)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is www.SportsLLL.com.

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