NORMAL, Illinois (WMBD) – A historic return to Horton Field House for Illinois State men’s basketball on Saturday, their first game there in more than three decades, brought out the emotion from notable figures in the program.

Doug Collins, the 1973 first overall NBA Draft pick and ISU alumnus, along with head coach Ryan Pedon were overcome after the thrilling 77-71 win over SIU-Edwardsville.

Collins said he was happy to see the players enjoy the atmosphere of the arena.

“What I’m really happy about is that we won, but now they know why I love this place. The crowd was fabulous. They lifted this team today when they needed them. Our guys stepped it up, big free throws, tremendous.”

Doug Collins

In a press conference after the game, Pedon called Collins a “father figure” and nearly broke down in tears describing how it felt to win with him in attendance.

“I love him. I shot him a text about 6:30-7 this morning and just told him how important this was …how much it meant to us to have him here.”

Ryan Pedon