Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Feb. 24, 2019

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Feb. 24, 2019

Twenty-one years ago today, Illini seniors Jerry Gee, Matt Heldman and Kevin Turnereach scored 16 points and Jerry Hester added another 15 as No. 22 Illinois defeated host Indiana 82-72.

Building upon a 33-28 lead at the intermission, coach Lon Kruger's squad scored the first nine points of the second half to mount a 14-point margin. With 9:37 remaining, Illinois' Sergio McClain was called for a technical foul after he hung on to the rim while trying to block a Luke Recker layup.

As an injured Recker laid on the floor, Hoosier coach Bob Knight argued a little too vociferously with referee Ted Valentine and was tossed out of the game. Three resulting free throws by Heldman and 9 of 12 shooting at the free-throw line during the final two minutes gave Illinois 10 victory in the last 11 games, catapulting the Illini to a Big Ten title.

Other memorable UI events on Feb. 24:

Feb. 24, 1917: In his last game on Illinois' home court, Ray Woods' long basket gave UI a 20-17 win over Wisconsin.

Feb. 24, 1951: Don Sunderlage scored an Ohio Field House record 34 points as Illinois defeated host Ohio State, 89-69.

Feb. 24, 1968: Dave Scholz scored 42 of UI's 62 points in a one-point victory over Northwestern at Champaign.

Feb. 24, 1973: Thirty-two points and 15 rebounds from Nick Weatherspoon led the host Illini past Michigan State, 81-71.

Feb. 24, 1979: Illinois' women's gymnastics team won its first-ever IAIAW state title.

Feb. 24, 1996: Following a victory over Iowa, Lou Henson announced his retirement in a postgame press conference.

Feb. 24, 2000: On Senior Night, UI's Susan Blauser capped her Illini career with a season-high 30-point effort against Wisconsin.

Feb. 24, 2001: In his final appearance at the Assembly Hall, Marcus Griffin scored 19 points as No. 3 Illinois topped Iowa, 89-63.

Feb. 24, 2007: Shaun Pruitt and Warren Carter combined for 47 points on 20-of-29 shooting as the Illini beat Penn State, 68-50.

Illini Birthdays:

Today: Mandy Cunningham Wilsey, basketball

Monday: Greg Colby, football/baseball (67)

Tuesday: Jennifer Beltran, volleyball

Wednesday: Meyers Leonard, basketball (27)

Thursday: Joe Sprengard, baseball (41)

Friday: Govoner Vaughn, basketball (82)

Saturday: Dawaune Smoot, football (24)

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