Former Illinois and New Mexico State coach Lou Henson won’t be at the United Center when the teams meet Saturday night. Henson, who was to be honored before the game, was hospitalized Thursday in Champaign, according to the Illinois athletic department. He has been battling cancer-related issues for 14 years, the school said. Henson is the all-time wins leader at both schools.
The Champaign News-Gazette reported Henson, who will turn 86 on Jan. 10, was being treated for a lung infection. He had planned to attend the game with nearly 40 family members and reconnect with more than 100 of his former players. Henson had appeared at a luncheon Monday and a news conference Tuesday in Champaign before becoming ill.
Henson coached at New Mexico State from 1966 to 1975, going 173-71 and reaching the Final Four in 1970. He coached at Illinois from 1975 to 1996, going 423-224 and reaching the Final Four in 1989. He returned to the Aggies in 1997, going 135-86 with one NCAA tournament appearance before retiring in 2005.