The Greatest Series: Top Performance No. 6

The No. 6 top individual performance in "The Greatest" series came on one of the most disappointing days in IU basketball history. It was the day the 31-0 Hoosiers of 1974-75 fell to Kentucky in the NCAA Regional finals. But in terms of one player attempting to will his team to victory, Kent Benson had a big time game for IU.

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. 6: BENSON HAS BIG DAY BUT HOOSIERS FALL TO Kentucky

If you were to ask Kent Benson if he considered his game on March 22, 1975 as one of the greatest individual performances in Indiana basketball history, he would probably disagree. Benson would tell you the only thing that mattered that day was that Indiana didn't win. And that would be an understandable statement.

Still, when you consider having the kind of day that Benson had on the biggest stage in the NCAA Tournament, it still seems as if it needed to be mentioned in this company.

But there's no denying that March 22, 1975 will long live as one of the most disappointing days in Indiana basketball history. That was the day that the 31-0 Hoosiers fell to No. 5 Kentucky 92-90 in the NCAA Regional Finals at Dayton, Ohio.

Many still believe that the 1974-75 Hoosiers may have been IU's best team ever. If not for Scott May breaking his arm Feb. 22 at Purdue, many believed that IU's legacy of being the last unbeaten team in college basketball in '76 could easily have been back-to-back undefeated seasons.

As it was, May returned to the court on March 8 in the regular season finale against Michigan State. His left arm was in a heavy cast, and it was also wrapped in a protective foam rubber to help cushion any blows. He played a few minutes at the end of that 94-79 victory over the Spartans that allowed the Hoosiers to finish the regular season undefeated at 29-0 for the first time in history.

Indiana was able to get past UTEP 78-52 in the first game of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington and then a few days later beat Oregon State 81-71 to reach the regional title game against Kentucky. Back on Dec. 7, IU had beaten Kentucky 98-74. But they had a healthy May in that one. This time around would be much more difficult.

The game turned out to be a knockdown, drag out affair. The game was tied 44-all at the half but the Wildcats managed to take a 10-point lead at 85-75 with under 4 minutes to play.

That's when Kent Benson almost willed his team to win. The big center hit several key baskets down the stretch and actually got IU to within two at 90-88 with 33 seconds to play. But the Hoosiers couldn't get any closer and dropped the 92-90 decision, a game that ended IU's perfect season.

Still, in terms of big games on the biggest stage, Benson was at his best. He finished with career highs in both points and rebounds as he scored 33 points and pulled down 22 boards but it simply wasn't enough. Benson was named the MVP of the regional but it was a bittersweet award as the only thing he wanted was a chance to play for the national title.

Stay tuned for the No. 5 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

Top Peformances: No. 9

Top Performances: No. 8

Top Performances: No. 7

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


Peegs.com Top Stories