[Editor's note: Bumped from FanPosts because it is highly topical and deserves top billing]
Last night, Penn State and Illinois played a game for the ages. Which ages? How about the Paleozoic and Mesozoic? Or, at the very least, an age before Archduke Franz Ferdinand became a household name.
As you may know, the Nittany Lions traveled to Champaign-Urbana and topped the Illini, 38-33, the lowest combined ouput in a Division I game since Monmouth and Princeton conspired to score 62 points one night in 2005. Together, the teams converted just 28 of 96 field goal attempts (29.2%), and just 6 of 33 three-point tries (18.2%). Illinois not only failed to make a free throw in the entire game, they failed to take one.
Let's put this in context. Exactly 100 years earlier, on February 18, 1909, the Missouri Tigers hosted Washington University of St. Louis, and prevailed, 28-21, the teams scoring at a somewhat slower pace than the Lions and Illini. Here are some things you should know about that game in particular, and the game of basketball in general as it existed a century ago. There was no shot clock. There was no three-point line. There was no rule against camping out in the lane. The jump shot had not yet been invented, and the tallest players usually checked in at around six-foot-two. The game clock ran continuously, even during free throws and the jump balls that followed every single basket. Missouri's star players were named Curly and Zeke. The game was still a half-century away from integration.
After I saw the score, I e-mailed an Illinois alum who happens to be one of my closest friends, and noted that 38-33 was a score from the 1920s. And then I looked at the record book to confirm. Sure enough, Missouri beat Kansas 41-30 on February 26, 1921. The Tigers topped Oklahoma 48-36 on February 12, 1927. They fell to Nebraska 39-33 on February 25, 1929.
Through all of this, one burning question remains. Why can't Illinois ever shoot like that against Mizzou?