The Greatest Series: Top Performance No. 9

In today's second installment of the Greatest Series in IU basketball history, Jimmy Rayl put on a show his junior season in a January home game against Minnesota. Branch McCracken called it one of the greatest exhibitions of outside shooting he had ever seen.

Each day, AllHoosiers.com has a new installment in "The Greatest" series that will chronicle some of the top players, teams and performances in Indiana basketball history.

The first top 10 countdown will look at some of the top individual performances in IU history. Go to the premium message board and weigh in with your own votes for what some of the top individual efforts have been in IU history.

NO. 9: RAYL BREAKS LOOSE AGAINST Minnesota

When the 1961-62 season dawned at Indiana, the Hoosiers were looking for a player to step up now that Walt Bellamy had graduated and moved on to the NBA.

Jimmy Rayl had come to IU with high expectations but his first season as a sophomore had left IU fans wanting for more. He averaged 4.0 points per game in 20 games. All of that changed in a big way as a junior when Rayl earned All-American honors and would eventually pour in 714 points for the season. That is still tied today for them most points ever scored by a junior at Indiana along with Mike Woodson in the 1978-79 season.

As a footnote, Rayl's performance was before the 3-point line was put into place which would have added a ton of points to that total as Rayl was an outside sharpshooter.

Rayl had some big games early in that 1961-62 season. He had 34 points, including 21 in the second half of a 74-68 win over New Mexico State in the second game of the season. Against Notre Dame in early January, Rayl scored 28 points. In the Big Ten opener against Michigan State, again Rayl had 28 with 21 coming in the second half. The next two games, against Minnesota on the road and DePaul at home, Rayl had 32 and 41 points respectively.

But all of that was a tune up for what he would accomplish at home on Jan. 27, 1962 in the second game of the season against Minnesota.

The game was a wild one. Just under three weeks after losing to Minnesota on the road, 104-100, Indiana came home and got revenge – barely. Rayl hit a 20-footer in the closing seconds of overtime to lift IU to a 105-104 victory over the Golden Gophers.

In that game, Rayl set a new Big Ten scoring record with 56 points. He hit 20-of-39 field goals, most from the outside, in a game that pre-dated the 3-point line. He also hit 16-of-20 free throws. His head coach, Branch McCracken, said later it was "one of the greatest exhibitions of outside shooting that I have ever seen.''

Stay tuned for the No. 8 selection in "The Greatest" series tomorrow at AllHoosiers.com.

In order to stay up with previous installments in the series, here are the links to previous stories in the countdown:

Top Performances: No. 10

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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