Monday, October 26, 2009

Top 5 Illini Clutch Shots

In the wake of yet another depressing weekend of football for Illini and Bears fans, it is time to look forward to the basketball season.  The Illini just had their Orange and Blue scrimmage on Sunday, and the first exhibition game is this Friday against Missouri Southern.  To help you get excited, here a list complete with clips of the best clutch shots of recent memory (sorry Tate, no whiz kids).

5b. Marcus Griffin over Wisconsin 2001
In a game where the Illini trailed by 13 points late and Frankie Williams scored 18 of his 22 in the second half, it was Griff and Sean Harrington - who made the inbounds pass, who were the heros in the end.  It was second greatest day of Sean's life next to the day he discovered hair gell.  The 68-67 victory helped propel the Illini to a share of the Big Ten title. 
Another interesting game note, this was the game that Cory Bradford's 88 game streak of sinking a 3-pointer ended.  Fortunately, his streak of violently slapping the floor in hopes of firing up the defense did remain intack.

5a. Luther Head over Purdue 2004
The Illini clinched a share of the Big Ten title in this thrilling overtime game that was headed for a second overtime until Head stepped in.  I was so mad when there was no calls made by the refs on this play.  First Roger Powell is fouled on a short jumper, then his shot is goaltended after it hits the backboard, then Luther is hacked on the follow-up. 
If Luther had not made the shot I might have broken my TV.

4.  Eddie Johnson over Michigan State 1979
This game was before my time, but any time you beat the number one team in the nation with a future Hall of Famer on a last-second shot you make this list.

3. Every Illini shot after the 4:00 mark in the second half against Arizona 2005
It almost goes without saying.  The most celebrated and important win of all-time for the Illini.  The three guards for Illinois just took the game over and extended their tournement run.  The thing that is amazing is how disappointing a season this would have been if not for the miracle comeback.  The Illini displayed dominance during the regular season, only being challenged in one game.  It would have been disasterous if this team did not make it to the Final Four.

2. Andy Kaufman over Iowa 1993
The Illini go the length of the floor in 1.5 seconds and win on Kaufman's miracle shot.  Tensions between Illinois and Iowa were at an all-time high due to the sanctions leveled against the Illini program because of the whole Bruce Pearl - Deon Thomas fiasco.  Iowa had just gone up 77-75 on a fluke play where the ball bounced off the shoulder of Thomas as he battled for the rebound and landed in the hoop.  It was an enourmous emotional victory for the team and the most exciting finish in Assembly Hall history.

1. Nick Anderson over Indiana 1989.
In a game of crazy momentum swings, Jay Edwards of Indiana ties the game with an unbelievable baseline shot, only to have Anderson answer with the game winner.  There were several things that I loved and made this number 1. 
The fact that Anderson just pulls it from 35 feet like it is a jumper from the elbow.  It takes a ton of strength to just shoot a jumper from there instead of a lunging runner. 
No replay review by the officials to slow the game and diminish the joy.
The look on Bobby Knight's face when he leaves the floor.  It was also interesting that Lou and Bobby shook hands afterwards and exchanged a few words.  They never were the best of friends, but they had a lot of respect for each other, and were classy to the end in the midst of a zany game and huge celebration.


  1. First of all, that's six. I was promised a top 5.

    Also, an addendum: Frank's gliding title winner over Minnesota at Williams Arena in 2002.

  2. Yeah, I know. It is pretty wrong to not have a that shot in there.
    I could have a top 5 clutch Frank shots of considering how many there were.


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