Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Feb. 10, 2019

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Feb. 10, 2019

Though neither Brad Underwood's Illini nor Chris Holtmann's Buckeyes will challenge for the Big Ten title this season, both schools have been spoilers against one another during Illinois' and Ohio State's previous championship campaigns.

Of course, the upset that most painfully comes to mind for Illini fans occurred on March 6, 2005 in Columbus. That was the Sunday afternoon that a 6-foot-7-inch Buckeye forward from Loveland became a player Illini fans would love to hate. Illinois, aiming at a 30-0 record, sprinted to an 18-6 lead at Value City Arena and led by six points with three minutes to play. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that things went dramatically south. The ultimately infamous moment came with just 5.1 seconds remaining when redshirt junior Matt Sylvester successfully stroked a 22-foot jump shot from the right wing to give Ohio State a 65-64 victory.

Other memorable games in the 105-year-old Illini-Buckeye basketball series:

Jan. 16, 1939: Ohio State's eventual Big Ten champs stumbled at Huff Gym and suffered their first conference loss, 45-31. Lincoln native Louis "Pick" Dehner was the biggest thorn in the side of coach Harold Olsen's Buckeyes that day, scoring 19 points. In front of 350 fans that made the 77-mile journey from his hometown, Dehner put on a show.

Feb. 16, 1945: A late-season loss in Champaign cost OSU an opportunity to tie for the Big Ten title. More than 7,000 fans, the most to see a game at Huff Gym in three seasons, watched freshman Walt Kersulis tally 14 points in a 56-41 victory.

Jan. 21, 1950: Illinois handed eventual champion Ohio State its only Big Ten loss, 66-50, holding the Buckeyes to a paltry 17.7 shooting percentage from the field (14 of 79).

Jan. 7, 1963: Illinois and Ohio State tied for the '63 conference crown, but the Illini wouldn't have done so without beating the Buckeyes, 90-78. In one of the final games played at venerable Huff Gym, the trio of Tal Brody (career high 23 points), Bill Small (22) and Dave Downey (21) countered a 33-point explosion by Buckeye ace Gary Bradds.

Jan. 13, 1979: With a blizzard roaring outdoors, Ohio State came to the Assembly Hall and handed unbeaten Illinois its first loss in 16 games. OSU's Herb Williams scored 29 points, including a few overtime baskets, to deny the Illini what might have been a No. 1 national ranking.

March 6, 1999: At Chicago's United Center, coach Lon Kruger's Illini forged their way into the Big Ten Tournament finals with a 79-77 victory over No. 11 Ohio State. UI withstood a 32-point barrage from Michael Redd.

Feb. 22, 2001: Sean Connolly hit a three-pointer with 30 seconds left as he and his host Buckeye teammates disposed of No. 3 Illinois, 63-61. UI's Frank Williams nearly became the hero, but his shot with one second remaining fell short. Despite the disappointment, the Illini went on to tie for the Big Ten title.

Jan. 10, 2012: Jared Sullinger,Aaron Craft& Co. would go on to win the conference championship, but the opportunity for an disputed title was eliminated by the last of eight three-pointers from UI's Brandon Paul with just 43 seconds left. Paul scored Illinois' final 15 points in a memorable 43-point effort.

Illini Birthdays

Today: Lyria Martin, track & field

Monday: Sue Webber, volleyball

Tuesday: Doug Dieken, football (70)

Wednesday: Bruce Bunkenberg, basketball (81)

Thursday: Reid Roper, baseball (27)

Friday: Edoardo Lipparelli, golf (22)

Saturday: Steve Kelly, broadcaster (70)

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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