University of Dayton basketball legend Negele Knight
Photo: Contributed Photo
Photo: Contributed Photo

UD NCAA legends: When Negele Knight charged out of the gate for a 1990 upset of Illinois

The University of Dayton basketball team is making its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance this season. 

We’re looking back on some of the best UD individual performances in tournament history. Today, it’s Negele Knight, who helped the hot Flyers upset Illinois with a blazing the start.

The Dayton Flyers in the NCAA tournament: 5 things to know

The Dayton Flyers were on a hot streak as the 1990 NCAA tournament began.

But 12th-seeded UD was matched up with 18th-ranked Illinois for the first round in Austin, Texas. An experienced Illinois team, too.

“They’ve been to the Final Four, whereas we’ll be coming in with the first-few-minutes jitters,” said UD senior Negele Knight before the game began.

That clearly wasn’t the case for Knight.

Negele Knight, former Flyer and who was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the 1990 NBA Draft. SOURCE: UDPRIDE.COM

One of UD’s all-time greats, Knight scored 17 points in the first half and 27 in the game, along with eight assists and five rebounds, as the Flyers upset Illinois, 88-86.

» INTERACTIVE: Explore the Dayton Flyers’ NCAA tournament history

Key late free throws by Bill Uhl and Anthony Corbitt sealed the win late for Dayton, and they were driven by their senior star. 

The Flyers were 11-9 in 1990 before a winning steak took them to a Midwestern Collegiate Conference championship, an NCAA tournament berth and the first-round victory. On that kind of streak, the Flyers were thinking big.

“I still have that desire to go farther,” Knight said.

» Dayton basketball history: What you should know about the Flyers

UD finished the season 22-10 after a second-round loss against Arkansas, 86-84, during which Knight had 16 points and 10 assists.

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A member of UD’s All-Century team, Knight holds six school records, including career assists (663), and he’s eighth on the career scoring list (1,806 points).

Knight was the last Flyers player chosen in the NBA draft, picked in the second round by Phoenix in 1990. He played five seasons in the NBA and averaged 6.2 points during his career.

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