Illinois celebrated 100 years of basketball on Saturday and the top-ranked Fighting Illini made sure they didn’t spoil the party. They controlled the game from the opening tip in an 89-66 victory over Minnesota.
More than 300 former players and coaches were among the sold-out Assembly Hall crowd that watched the Illini, 21-0 overall, 7-0 Big Ten, open with a 10-1 run.
Former Illinois coaches Harv Schmidt, Gene Bartow and Lou Henson were among those who came back for the celebration, which included a postgame introduction of the school’s all-century team.
Henson, who coached at Illinois for 21 seasons and led the Illini to their last Final Four appearance in 1989, was greeted with a standing ovation and a chorus of “Lou, Lou,” from the crowd.
Henson has used a wheelchair since a bout with viral encephalitis last fall, but he stood to accept the ovation one week after retiring as head coach at New Mexico State.
Illinois, which wore replica 1989 uniforms for the game, extended its conference winning streak to 17 games, tying a school record set from 1914-16.