Good morning Illini nation.
The Big Ten Network is showing another classic Illinois basketball game from the Flyin’ Illini years: the 1989 Illinois-Indiana stunner when Nick Anderson one-upped Jay Edwards and shut up Bobby Knight, his Hoosiers and their maniacal fan base with a buzzer-beating three in Bloomington.
Once again, here’s a live blog following this replay on the BTN (airing in a few minutes at 7 a.m. central time).
Let’s take a look at the starters for this game that originally took place on Sunday, March 5, 1989.
1988-89 Illinois Fighting Illini (24-4 entering this game, 11-4 in the Big Ten)
Forward Marcus Liberty (6-8 Sophomore)
Forward Kenny Battle (6-6 Senior)
Center Lowell Hamilton (6-7 Senior)
Guard Nick Anderson (6-6 Junior)
Guard Stephen Bardo (6-6 Junior)
Head Coach Lou Henson (13th season at Illinois)
Note: The Illini are without star junior guard Kendall Gill, who broke his foot during a 102-92 victory against Georgia Tech on Sunday, January 22, 1989. The Illini are 7-4 without Gill, including a 75-65 victory against Indiana in Champaign on January 28th.
Forward Eric Anderson
Forward Todd Jadlow
Guard Lyndon Jones
Guard Jay Edwards
Guard Joe Hillman
Head Coach: Bobby Knight
Note: Indiana’s only loss in the Big Ten came to Illinois on January 28th. Prior to that game, the Hoosiers had won their first six games in the conference. Since the Illinois loss, Indiana has won eight straight conference games, a testament to Knight getting the most out of his talent. An Indiana win against Illinois will guarantee the Hoosiers at least a share of the Big Ten Conference Championship.
Announcers: Keith Jackson and Dick Vitale
Officials: A young Ed Hightower is one of them.
7:11 am: Prior to the tip, Vitale is talking about Knight and Henson having spent Friday night together, attending a high school game of Patrick Knight (Bobby’s son). Of course, Pat Knight would go to Indiana, where his father would famously kick him on the sidelines, and serve as a long-time assistant for his father at IU and Texas Tech, before taking over for the Red Raiders after the General left the program. Anyways, Jadlow and Battle will tip off, with Indiana in their traditional whites and Illinois sporting their orange uniforms. Following a false jump, Jadlow tips the ball to Edwards, who immediately attacks the basket and draws a blocking foul on Liberty (Gill’s replacement in the starting lineup). Hillman nearly turns the ball over before Edwards misses a turnaround jumper on the block. The ball is deflected out of bounds off Jones and to the Illini. Battle misses an outside baseline jumper, but the long rebound goes to Bardo, who reverses the ball to Liberty. On a post feed from Liberty, Anderson hits a turnaround banker to give Illinois a 2-0 lead. Vitale calls Anderson, who scored 35 points against Ohio State a week earlier, “the best kept secret in college basketball.”Running a methodical offense, Indiana and Edwards draw a holding foul on Battle on the baseline. ABC’s cameras show Gill, decked in his uniform on the bench. According to Vitale, Gill will be returning to practice following this game. Jadlow misses a wild runner but three Illini fail to snag the rebound, with the ball going out of bounds to Indiana. Jones quickly drives the lane and feeds an open Jadlow, who has a seemingly easy layup blocked by Liberty (great rotation defense). Bardo turns the ball over on the ensuing break, throwing the ball to nobody. Eric Anderson has a short jumper in the lane partially blocked by Hamilton. On the other end, a Battle layup is partially tipped and Indiana gets on the break. Jones’ pass bounces off Hillman and into Nick Anderson’s arms. A sloppy start for both teams. Bardo hits Liberty, who cans an outside jumper for a 4-0 lead as Knight tells his team to slow it down. Out of an Edwards post up, Hillman cans a long two at the top of key. Nick Anderson abuses the smaller Hillman on the block for another banker. Jones beats Liberty on a baseline drive, but shoots the ball too hard off the rim. Hamilton secures the rebound before he is undercut by an Indiana player. No foul is called but Illinois maintains possession with Bardo on the attack and missing a jumper. Nick Anderson grabs the rebound and misses a banker while Bardo misses another chip shot. Eric Anderson grabs the board for IU. Great secondary break for Indiana leads to Hillman finding Edwards for a wide open three that bounces off the back iron to Illinois. Bardo misses a jumper in the lane, set up by a beautiful head fake. Former Illinois Mr. Basketball Eric Anderson scores and is called a Diaper Dandy by Vitale. Nick Anderson has the ball swiped out of his hands on what looks like to be a foul by Edwards, who misses a short jumper. Jadlow is called for an over-the-back foul, leading us to the television timeout. Illinois 6, Indiana 4.
7:19 am: Out of the timeout, Liberty misses an easy layup and Hamilton is called for an over the back foul. Nick Anderson is then called for a blocking foul on the baseline against a driving Joe Hillman. Eric Anderson misses a baseline jumper set up by Edwards, and Hillman is called for a push on Nick Anderson. Illinois is 3-for-9 from the start, Indiana 2-for-10. Anderson has the ball stripped inside by Edwards, but Indiana is tied up on the other end of the floor. The possession arrow goes to Illinois. Battle hits Hamilton out of a double team for a chippie layup that is missed. Raging bull Nick Anderson grabs the rebound, but is tied up. Possession arrow to Indiana. Anderson with an incredulous look on his face, as if he got fouled. Ed Hightower with the theatrical call (a specialty of his). Indiana works the shot clock before Edwards misses again, this time a short jumper in the lane that is too strong. Liberty gets the rebound and starts the break to Battle, who tries to make too cute of a pass to Nick Anderson, with the ball knocked out of bounds by Indiana. Larry Smith replaces Battle. Bardo misses a short jumper off the inbound pass, but Edwards is called for a foul on the rebound attempt. Both teams are frigid from the field. Nick Anderson crosses over Eric Anderson and misses a mid-range jumper off the back iron. Jones drives and misses. Hamilton starts the fast break, with Smith feeding Liberty for a layup and 8-4 lead. That’s how you run the break. Indiana takes advantage as Illinois fails to get back in time, with Hillman burying a jumper from the corner pocket. 8-6 Illinois. Bardo bricks a three. Jadlow is hammered down low by Liberty, who now has two fouls. Jadlow at the free throw line: sinks the first and bricks the second. Rebound to Larry Smith. On the ensuing Illini possession, Smith misses a twisting layup. Jadlow has the ball slapped out of his hands under the Illinois basket. Illinois 8, Indiana 7 at the under-12 television timeout.
7:28 am: Hillman airballs an open jumper on the baseline, and the Illini get on the break, with Nick Anderson scoring a layup on a beautiful pass from Smith. Indiana milks the shot clock, and Illlinois’ defense eventually breaks down, with Hillman making a wide-open layup. Jones denies an entry pass to Hamilton. The ball remains with Illinois. Larry Smith misses a baseline drive. Edwards makes a beautiful pass to Hillman, who can’t hit an open three. Smith misses another layup and Hamilton is unable to tip in the ball while crashing the board. Eric Anderson grabs the board for Indiana as the silent IU crowd begins to waken. Edwards blows by the matador defense of Bardo to score on a slashing layup and give Indiana its first lead at 11-10. The quiet Kenny Battle misses an open jumper out of a double team of Nick Anderson. Eric Anderson fakes Nick Anderson out of his shorts with a head fake, but clanks an open jumper in the lane. Illinois with the ball and no rhythm of late. Hamilton clanks a baseline jumper. The Illini have failed to get a point from Hamilton or Battle on the interior with 8 minutes left in the first half. Hillman is trapped on the baseline by Bardo and Hamilton, but spins out of the double team, only to hit the bottom of the rim on a difficult layup. Bardo grabs the board and pushes, making a beautiful left-handed bounce pass to Battle, who rises and slams the ball through the hoop for a 12-11 lead. Maybe this play will get Battle going. Vitale goes crazy, describing Battle’s aerial assault as “Flight #33.” 7:30 remains. Jones has a jumper blocked by Smith, who apparently got hand. Vitale notes how Michigan is the most talented team in the Big Ten while Ervin Small checks in for Illinois and Brian Sloan (Jerry’s son) comes in for Indiana. Jones misses his first free throw but makes the second to tie the game at 12. There’s a timeout on the floor with the game nodded at 12, with under 8 minutes to go. This is a classic Big Ten game, low on scoring but high on physical play.
7:35 am: Battle comes out of the break and hits a high-rising jumper over Sloan. Illinois shooting 29% and Indiana 26%. Jadlow is fouled over the top by Liberty, who now has 3 fouls. Jadlow clanks the one-and-one, with Indiana now in the bonus. Smith gets called for a double dribble. Illinois with 4 turnovers, Indiana with 2. Edwards misses a long jumper but an unblocked Jadlow gets the rebound and slams the ball down to tie the game at 14. Liberty misses a baseline jumper, with Edwards grabbing the rebound. Indiana reserve Jamal Meeks turns the ball over on a poor entry pass. Suddenly awake, Battle hits an acrobatic layup, set up by a beautiful pass from Smith. Getting back on the other end, Battle swats a wide open layup by Meeks. Hillman misses a lefty layup but grabs the rebound and scores on the put back. Illinois is doing a poor job on the defensive glass. Nick Anderson banks in an open shot on the baseline off a nice curl play. Finally, the offense is beginning to pick up with 4 minutes left. Indiana works some clock, with Edwards hitting a difficult shot in the lane to tie the game at 18. Vitale raves about Sloan’s ability to set screens. Battle misses a three, but the ball bounces off of Jadlow. A television timeout with 3:25 left.
7:45 am: Out of the timeout, Smith (having a solid first half) gets into the lane and misses a lefty layup. Hamilton misses a tip but Nick Anderson grabs the rebound and lays the ball back in. Illinois 20, Indiana 18, with the Illini finally getting to the boards. Nick Anderson has been a force down low, with 10 of Illinois’ 20 points. Jay Edwards is called for a double dribble, and Eric Anderson returns for Indiana. Hamilton misses a turnaround over Eric Anderson. Edwards scores on a layup off a curl move. Nick Anderson misses a layup, but Battle tips the ball in. Looked like offensive goal tending but the Illini will take it. Battle now with eight points. Hillman hits a tough baseline jumper over Bardo, who commits the foul. Hillman hits the free throw, and Indiana leads 23-22 with 1:50 left. A driving Battle is blocked by Edwards but fouled by Sloan. Battle bricks the first free throw (the first for Illinois in the game). Battle hits the second to tie the game. A replay shows that Battle’s tip-in was good and not interference. Lyndon Jones hits a jumper in the lane. Bardo misses a three and is 0-for-the-game. On the break, Jones has a layup spin in and out. Nick Anderson knocks the ball out of bounds, but complains of a foul. Seldom-used P.J. Bowman replaces Bardo, and Hillman takes advantage, by running Bowman off a screen and hitting a running layup. Indiana up 27-23 as the Assembly Hall crowd starts to make some noise. 30 seconds left as Illinois pulls the ball out for the last shot. Smith pounding the ball at half court. Battle makes an incredible layup, fumbling but recovering the ball off a Smith pass. Jones shoots air on a half-court heave as the horn sounds. Indiana leads 27-25. Battle (11 points) and Anderson (10) have 21 of Illinois’ 25 points.
7:49 am: 27-25 coming out of the break. Illinois with the ball as Smith has replaced the foul-plagued Liberty (3 fouls). Indiana has 22 points from its back court, with the scrappy Hillman netting 13. Smith turns the ball over when Edwards steals a weak pass. Lyndon Jones cans a quick jumper from the left wing. Smith misses a hesitant jumper over Jones as Indiana is sagging on the Illini, daring them to hit jumpers. Jones quickly burns Smith on the other end, with a layup that gives Indiana its biggest lead of the game, 31-25. Lou Henson takes a timeout as the Assembly Hall is rocking. Indiana comes out of the break ready to go while Illinois looks like it’s sleepwalking out there.
7:54 am: Illinois misses a jumper out of the timeout, and Edwards pushes the ball up court for Indiana. Edwards takes an aggressive but wild floater that Battle inexplicably goal tends. Illinois is in trouble here, down eight and playing with no poise or urgency. Hamilton misses a forced jumper but Illinois gets lucky when Edwards misses a wide open three, to the chagrin of the Hoosier crowd, which was ready to explode. Nick Anderson skies for the rebound over Eric Anderson. Smith hits Hamilton for an easy jumper that is missed. Hamilton compounds his shooting woes (0-for-7) with a cheap foul. Illinois starters Hamilton and Bardo have failed to score. Not a recipe for success with Gill out. Indiana smells blood as Jones blows by Liberty for a layup. Timeout Illinois. Indiana up 10, 35-25. Trouble time for Illinois.
8:02 am: Illinois is o-for-4 in the second half; Indiana 4-for-6. Anderson misses a tough turnaround but grabs the rebound and hits a tough banker. Illinois goes to a half-court trap but has not pressed tonight. Hightower whistles Battle for a foul on the interior after a drawn-out IU possession. However, IU’s Jadlow commits an offensive foul. It’s getting testy here. Hamilton misses another turnaround. Edwards fires a pass off Eric Anderson’s hands. Illinois ball. Illinois averaging 86.8 points per game but has 27 thus far. Smith misses a rushed layup, and the ball bounces out to Hillman, who feeds Jones on a 2-on-1 fast break for a score. Indiana up 37-27. Nick Anderson is stripped on the baseline by Hillman and is frustrated that no foul is called. Everything is going IU’s way as Edwards throws the ball at an unsuspecting Eric Anderson, who retrieves the ball and is fouled. Eric Anderson misses an easy layup, and the ball is deflected out of bounds to Illinois. Smith throws a terrible lob to Battle (off the backboard) and Indiana makes them pay, with Hillman pushing the ball, getting in the lane and banking a layup. Vitale notes how Indiana’s guards are killing Illinois’ perimeter players, who he describes as “inept” thus far. Nick Anderson muscles a banker over Hillman. 39-29 Indiana. Illinios shooting 22 percent in the second half. Eric Anderson has a sloppy pass stolen by Smith, who gets on the break and draws a foul on Edwards on a show-the-ball layup that does not go in. Smith makes both free throws to cut the game to eight points. Edwards blows by Smith and hits a short jumper off the glass. No defensive rotation by Illinois. Anderson misses a bank shot but Bardo springs out of nowhere to get the offensive rebound and draw a foul. Indiana 41, Illinois 31, with Bardo to shoot two free throws.
8:12 am: Bardo makes both free throws and is finally on the scoreboard. 41-33 Indiana. Hillman gets away with a walk, drives the lane and loses the ball, which falls into Jadlow’s hands. Jadlow is fouled by Ervin Small. Jadlow hits one of two free throws. Indiana up 9 with 13:30 left. Smith forces a pass to Nick Anderson on the block. Anderson steps out of bounds. Illinois finally brings some full-court pressure, which Indiana easily breaks. Indiana now working some clock. Edwards drives, draws and kicks to Jones, who goes baseline, scores a banker layup and is fouled by Liberty (his fourth). Jones completes the old-fashioned three-point play for a 45-33 lead. Vitale describes Hamilton’s game as “up and down like the Dow Jones.” Bardo misses a hesitant three, and Nick Anderson knocks the rebound out of bounds. Bobby Knight is forcing the Illini to hit the outside shot, and Illinois is complying by missing everything. A wild scrum ensues: Indiana misses a shot and Hillman nearly takes the ball from Liberty, who saves the ball from going out of bounds but throws it under the Illini basket to Eric Anderson, who is luckily fouled by Bardo before he can get an easy shot off. Anderson then misses a bunny layup and Bardo pushes the ball, drawing a shooting foul on Jones. Bardo is 0-for-7 from the field but 3-for-4 from the free throw line after splitting the pair. IU up 45-34. Jadlow hits a tough layup, with Liberty missing a block. Anderson misses a baseline jumper but Bardo keeps it alive, missing a put back. Finally scoring, Hamilton slams the ball down as he is fouled by Edwards (his third). Hamilton will be at the line when the game returns, with Indiana leading 47-36. Boy, how this game has gotten away from Illinois in the second half.
8:22 am: Hamilton is averaging 13.8 points per game, but has just two tonight. He remains at two after clanking the free throw. 11:07 remaining. Indiana working the clock. Hillman misses a baseline jumper and Hamilton snags the rebound. However, Illinois is called for three-seconds on the offensive end, with Hightower making another unnecessarily dramatic call. Lou Henson brings Bowman back in the game. Jadlow misses an inside layup but is fouled by Anderson, who argues with Hightower. Nick Anderson has only two fouls. Jadlow hits the first free throw and bricks the second. 48-36 Indiana. Battle gets trapped on the baseline but finds Hamilton who misses again but is fouled. Voicing his frustration, Hamilton lets out a noticeably audible “Damn.” Hamilton makes both free throws to cut the game to 10. In the back court, the pesky Bowman is called for a block on Jones even though Jones pushed off. A missed charge call there, but Jones misses the free throw (Indiana in the bonus). Battle is fouled on the drive, making the basket but not getting the continuation (as the ball goes through the hoop). Battle hits two free throws. The game is down to eight with 9:30 to go. Vitale and Jackson say that they smell an Illini spurt, but Hillman responds with a gorgeous head fake and jumper to give Indiana a 10-point lead again. Battle misses an up-tempo baseline jumper and then fouls Jadlow on the other end of the court. Illinois is trying to pick up the pace here. Jadlow at the line yet again. Jadlow hits the first and clanks the second, for the third straight time at the line. Illinois down 11. Vitale says that Illinois should get Bowman a three, and they do, which Bowman drains to cut the game to eight. Suddenly, the Illini seem to have some pep in their step. 51-43 IU. Illinois seemingly forces a five-second violation on Hillman, but the ref (not Hightower) gives the timeout to Indiana. Illinois has been noticeably frustrated by a few questionable calls here in the last couple of minutes, but are slowly chipping away in this game.
8:30 am: 8:40 remains in the game, with Indiana up eight. Hillman cans a three for his 18th, 19th and 20th points of the game. Indiana’s guards (Hillman, Edwards and Jones) have 44 of Indiana’s 54 points. Bardo responds with his own three (and first field goal of the game), and suddenly Illinois has found an outside stroke. 54-46 Indiana. Edwards misses a tough banker, and Jadlow can not connect on an even more difficult tip-in attempt. Pushing the ball, Bardo hits Bowman, who finds Hamilton on the block. Hamilton splashes a turnaround jumper, and Illinois has cut the deficit to 6 points. Assembly Hall is suddenly quiet, with the exception of an excited Illini contingent. Illinois brings the run-and-jump defense, but IU gets the ball into the front court. A cutting Edwards makes a breathtaking over the shoulder pass to the stiff Jadlow, who misses a wide open dunk, as if his legs gave out on him on the play. Illinois pushes with Bowman feeding Liberty, who forces and misses an awful baseline shot. Nick Anderson is checking in at the scorer’s table to return to the game. Bowman is called for a blocking foul against Jones, who misses the one and one. A driving Bardo feeds the ball to Nick Anderson on the block, who bullies a banker off the glass and draws a foul on Hillman (his fourth). N.A. misses the free throw, but Bardo snags the offensive rebound and draws a foul on Eric Anderson with 6:42 left. Bardo has come alive in the second half. Bardo misses the first and second free throw, however, as Indiana clings to a 54-50 lead. Edwards misses a fadeaway baseline jumper over Bowman, who then misses a corner three on the ensuing Illini possession. Larry Smith gets the offensive rebound and feeds the ball to Nick Anderson, who violently dunks the ball. Illlinois is only down 54-52, thanks to a 12-3 run that forces Bobby Knight to call a timeout.
8:39 am: Out of the timeout, Edwards misses a tough jumper on the baseline but Nick Anderson is called for goaltending. 56-52 Indiana with 5:20 left. Larry Smith misses a layup but Jadlow is called for a foul on Battle. Illinois is in the bonus. Battle makes the free throw, but Bardo is called for a foul on Jadlow. That was a weak call. Battle’s bucket counts, and he will get his other free throw, which he hits. Now Jadlow gets his own one and one, with Indiana leading 56-54. Battle’s first two points of the second half. Bobby Knight is heard screaming at the ref, saying “That’s not basketball.” Moments earlier, Vitale says that “Bobby Knight makes Mike Ditka look like an angel.” Jadlow makes both free throws to put IU back to a four-point lead. The Assembly Hall crowd is loud again. Bardo misses a three, but Nick Anderson takes over down low, grabbing the rebound over Jay Edwards and laying the ball in the hoop. Anderson with 20 points (all inside), and Illinois trails 58-56. Illinois is bringing a trapping defense, and Eric Anderson is eventually called for an offensive foul with 4:30 left. Battle is at the line, for another one-and-one. Battle swishes the first and clanks the second. The ensuing loose ball is picked up by the scrappy Hillman, and Battle is called for a reach-in foul against the IU senior. Clinging to a one-point lead, Hillman hits both free throws to put Indiana up 60-57. Larry Smith attacks the lane, getting Jones in the air with a pump fake, banking in the ball and drawing a foul. Smith misses the free throw as Illinois can not tie the game. Hillman gets open on a beautiful back cut and scores on another goaltending call. IU by three, that is until Hamilton hits a turnaround jumper. Edwards turns the ball over, and Illinois slows it down before Henson calls a timeout. Illinois down 62-61 with 3:22 remaining.
8:46 am: Nick Anderson misses a jumper in the lane designed out of the timeout. Indiana running some clock until Edwards hits a three. Battle gets his first field goal of the second half, hitting a tough fall away over Eric Anderson and drawing a foul for good measure. Battle swishes the free throw, and Illinois is down 65-64 with 2:10 left. Edwards misses a three, and Hamilton snags the ball. Illinois working some clock. Anderson goes inside to Hamilton, who goes back out to Nick. Anderson swings the ball to the opposite side to an open Bardo, who lines up, measures and drills a three. Illinois leads 67-65, it’s first lead in forever, with 1:36 remaining. The few Illini fans in Bloomington are going wild. Hillman hits Jadlow off a screen and roll. Jadlow runs over an Illini defender but misses the layup. No charge or block is called as Nick Anderson grabs the rebound and pushes the ball up court. Anderson feeds Smith before Hightower stops play with an empathic blocking call against Jones. Nick Anderson at the line for a one and one. He clanks the front end, and the ball bounces out of bounds off Hamilton. Indiana calls a timeout with 1:13 left and down two.
8:51 am: Indiana ball coming out of the timeout. Illinois remains up two when Jones misses an aggressive layup in the lane. Illinois is burning some clock here with one minute left. Down to 22 seconds, Nick Anderson throws the ball out of the bounds. However, there is an over-the-back foul on IU’s Eric Anderson (who is gone with five fouls and two points). Battle is at the line for a one and one. He misses the first (Illinois continues to shoot itself at the line), and the ball bounces all over the place until Larry Smith eventually knocks it out of bounds with 17 seconds left. Indiana calls a timeout so that Knight can draw up a play. Nick Anderson and Battle with two killer misses at the free throw line, allowing Indiana to tie this game with a two or even take the lead with a three. Not what Illinois wants: Knight drawing up a play on the sidelines.
9:00 am: Who does Indiana go to out of the timeout? Edwards has been IU’s star all season, but Hillman has a season-high 24 points. Indiana comes out with four guards (Edwards, Hillman, Jones and Jamal Meeks) and Jadlow. Edwards inbounds the ball to Meeks, who goes to Jones. Down to 10 seconds here, Jones passes to Edwards, who takes a look at the opposite clock for the remaining amount of time. On the left wing, Jadlow sets a screen for Edwards, who doesn’t take it. With Jadlow cutting to the left block, Edwards makes his move, dribbling baseline and firing up a rainbow shot over Nick Anderson and Lowell Hamilton. Falling out of bounds as the ball goes over the side of the backboard, Edwards drains the difficult jumper to tie the game at 67 and send the Assembly Hall into mass hysteria. What an improbable shot with 2 seconds remaining. In the midst of all the chaos, Bardo coolly calls a timeout, which Henson reinforces from the sideline. The replay shows that Nick Anderson sagged off a bit on the shot. That was just ridiculous by Edwards, who can only grin after that clutch/lucky make.
The game is tied at 67. Thank God Edwards didn’t shoot a three. Coming out of the timeout, the Illini will have to go the full-length of the court. Anderson has not hit an outside shot all game, but would seemingly be the option given his 20 points on the game. Alright. Bardo is going to take the ball out here. Indiana chooses not to guard Bardo (a bit surprising). Bardo receives the ball from Hightower and throws a baseball pass three-quarters the length of the court. Anderson catches the pass, and with the hero Edwards guarding him, puts the ball down once to his right and heaves up a shot with one second left. Amidst the anticipatory silence of everyone at the Assembly Hall, Anderson’s dramatic three-pointer falls through the basket as the clock hits zeroes, stunning the Indiana sidelines and crowd, and sending the Illinois bench into a frenzy. The exuberant Illini have mobbed the fallen but joyous Anderson on the court, including Gill with his broken foot. Liberty hoists Anderson onto his shoulders as the Illini junior forward pumps his fists in joy. Henson shows a wry smile but is surprisingly calm (his assistants have turned into college kids all over again). Absolutely stone-faced and silent, Knight walks in disbelief to Henson, shaking his head and saying “Nice game.”
Illinois improbably wins 70-67. What a shot. What a comeback. What a game. Anderson leads the team with 23 points and hits a shot that will surely be remembered forever by the Illini nation.
Postgame Analysis/Commentary: What else can you say after this game? Illinois looked left for dead with about 10 minutes left in the second half but slowly chipped away. With Gill out, no one on Illinois played a great game as everything was difficult to come by for the Illini. Despite miserable shooting performances, Bardo and Hamilton stepped up their play late in the second half while Anderson proved to be a force on the interior. Mostly quiet from the floor, Battle made a couple of big free throws, but also left the door open (along with Anderson) for Indiana to remain in the game and for Edwards to tie the game with his improbable shot. Larry Smith was generally steady off the bench, while the rarely used P.J. Bowman also provided a nice spark. Knight’s questionable decision to leave Bardo unguarded certainly benefited Illinois, allowing the junior point guard to make a perfect pass to Anderson. In a moment of pure reaction as opposed to much thinking, Anderson simply dribbled and fired the ball at the hoop, with it sailing through and besting Edward’s heroics. While Illinois’ efforts through the first 39 minutes and 58 seconds weren’t always pretty, the final two seconds certainly were.
What Each Team Did the Rest of the Way in 1988-1989: The Illini would not lose another game until the Final Four against Michigan, including Big Ten closeouts of Iowa and Michigan in Ann Arbor. Of course, with Gill back in the Final Four, Illinois would be down two in overtime with a couple of seconds left, when a similar full-court heave proved unsuccessful. The 1988-89 Flyin’ Illini would finish 31-5, one game short of a shot at the national championship.
As for Indiana, they would rebound from this heartbreaking loss to Illinois to beat Wisconsin by eleven. The Hoosiers would lose their Big Ten finale at Iowa, but finish as conference champions with a 15-3 regular season record. Indiana would reach the Sweet Sixteen of the 1989 NCAA Tournament, where the Hoosiers would lose to upstart Seton Hall, which lost to Michigan in the title game. Not one of Knight’s more talented team, the 1988-89 Hoosiers were one of his best coaching jobs.
Well, that concludes another Illini Basketball Classics. It’s been fun reliving this game (which I never saw in its entirety).
Topics: Assembly Hall, Bobby Knight, Flying Illini, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball, Indiana Basketball, Jay Edwards, Joe Hillman, Kendall Gill, Kenny Battle, Larry Smith, Lou Henson, Lowell Hamilton, Nick Anderson, P.J. Bowman, Stephen Bardo