3. Jim McDaniels
31 points, 6 Rebounds – (March 20, 1971) (WKU 81– Ohio State 78 OT)
Coming off the emotional high of defeating Kentucky two days earlier, the Hilltoppers next faced Big Ten Champion Ohio State for the right to advance to the NCAA Final Four in Houston, Tx.
Ohio State shot nearly 67% in the first half and led by as much as 13 points at 36-23 before the Toppers managed to cut the deficit to 40-34 at the break.
Long range shooting by McDaniels and the WKU guard combination of Jim Rose and Rex Bailey allowed the Toppers to get back in the game in the second half.
A corner basket by Bailey with just ten seconds to play in regulation gave Western a 69-all tie and forced the overtime period where the Hilltoppers outscored the Buckeyes 12-9 to earn the hard-fought victory.
McDaniels stated in an interview with HH, “They scouted us real well and they knew our plays. They just played some tough basketball. Ohio State was a very tough team, very tough, very good team. But there again, we just refused to be denied. I think our team had the will to win that was incredible. That’s what it takes. You just have to have a certain will to win, to not be denied. no matter whether you win or lose. Our team was the kind of team, whether you beat us or you didn’t beat us, you didn’t want any more part of us, because we really came to play. We pulled that jersey on that said, “WESTERN KENTUCKY” on it and we came to play, EVERY night.”