We recently dove into the NCAA Division I Football record book and identified seven individual records that will (probably) never be broken. Now, we assigned ourselves some more light reading and did the same for men’s college basketball.
Of the most popular team sports, basketball is likely the sport that can be most influenced by one individual. What individual DI records are so impressive that they’ll likely never be broken?
Here are seven we think will never be bested.
100 points in a game – Frank Selvy, Furman (1954)
First off, let’s acknowledge that the individual record for points in the DI men’s basketball game and an NBA game is the same: 100 points. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game (and the famous picture of him holding a white piece of paper with “100” on it) are well-known but odds are you haven’t heard of former Furman great Frank Selvy, who went on to be the No. 1 pick in the 1954 NBA Draft.
Even with the addition of the three-point line, Selvy’s record is untouchable.
Defending national champion Villanova, which also had the country’s most efficient offense, scored at least 100 points just four times last season – as a team.
In a 40-minute game, it would take a player averaging 2.5 points per minute, assuming the player never went to the bench.
Marquette’s Markus Howard has as much single-game scoring potential as any player in the country as a high-usage guard who was a 93.8 percent free-throw shooter last season and a 54.7 percent three-point shooter the season prior. He scored 52 points in 44 minutes in an overtime win against Providence last January.
It would require a player to essentially double Howard’s production, potentially without the benefit of overtime, to break Selvy’s triple-figure mark.
Selvy, a two-time Southern Player of the Year, averaged 41.7 points on 32.4 field goal attempts per game in his final season. For comparison, former Oklahoma point guard Trae Young averaged 19.3 shots per game last season.
54 consecutive points with no teammate scoring – Bill Milkvy, Temple (1951)
We swear we didn’t plan this but Howard’s 54 points against Providence prove to be another useful reference point for this 67-year-old record from Temple’s Bill Milkvy. Scoring that many points in a game is impressive; doing so without a teammate scoring a single point in between is darn near impossible.
Last season Young, who was as singularly synonymous with his team’s offense as any player in the country, scored 16 straight points for the Sooners in an overtime win against TCU. It was a performance that was so impressive it was highlighted in the team’s postgame notes and newspaper stories written about Young.
Now imagine a player scoring more than three times as many points in a row without even a layup or free throw from a teammate. If a player truly got hot enough from the field to put Milkvy’s record in jeopardy, the opposing coaching staff would likely throw the kitchen sink at him – double teams, bigger defenders, quicker defenders, everything.
57.3% Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage in a Season (Min. 100 made) – Steve Kerr, Arizona (1988)
How cool is it that a coach (Steve Kerr) and his player (Steph Curry) are on the short list of greatest three-point shooters ever? Both are NCAA Division I men’s basketball record-holders.
Kerr for most consecutive games in a season making a three-pointer (38) and highest single-season three-point percentage and Curry for most three-pointers in a season (162), most three-pointers made by a freshman (122) and most three-pointers made per game by a sophomore (4.5).
Kerr’s 57.3 three-point percentage while making at least 100 threes in 1988 is unbreakable. It’s hard to imagine any other player ever being more efficient at that volume.
He ranks fifth in NCAA DI history in single-season three-point field goal percentage (without a minimum requirement of 100 three-pointers made) but no other player in that group came close to his 114 made three-pointers that season. Five players with a top-25 single-season three-point percentage of all-time made between 40 and 49 threes in their respective seasons and no player on that list made more than 86.
24 consecutive free throws made in a game – Arlen Clark, Oklahoma State (1959)
Making 24 free throws in a row is challenging enough, regardless of the time span, as is attempting 24 free throws in a single game, so doing both during a 40-minute basketball game will likely never be bested.
We went through the top 10 players last season in terms of free throw percentage to see how their best performances at the charity stripe last season stacked up against Clark’s 1959 record. The most free throws any of those 10 players made in a game was 13 and the most anyone made without a miss was 10.
Hypothetically, the most efficient way to even attempt 24 free throws in a game would be to get fouled on eight three-point attempts, assuming none of the shots went in the basket. There were only five players in the entire country (all of whom were forwards or centers) who averaged more than eight fouls drawn per 40 minutes last season, per kenpom.com, so even getting to the line that many times is incredibly difficult.
One final point of reference: Bucknell’s Zach Thomas led the country with 241 free throws made last season so it would require even the most productive free throw shooter to make more than 10 percent of his season-long total in a single game, without a miss. Not happening.
48 consecutive games making a double-double – Tom Gola, La Salle (1953-55)
La Salle’s Tom Gola is one of two players, along with George Washington’s Joe Holup, in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history to finish his college career with at least 2,000 points and 2,000 rebounds, so he’s one of the best college players ever to be both an elite scorer and rebounder in his era. It would take almost a season and a half of consecutive double-doubles to break his 63-year-old record.
Let’s compare Gola’s achievement to former Seton Hall center Angel Delgado, who graduated last spring and was one of the most consistent double-double threats in the last four years. He averaged 15.2 points and 13.1 rebounds per game as a junior and 12 & 11 for his four-year career. The longest double-double streak he had at Seton Hall was 13 games.
To avoid a serious cold-shooting night, foul trouble, limited minutes due to a blowout, double teams and countless other factors that stand in the way of a double-double for nearly 50 consecutive games is something only Gola may achieve.
4.65 career assist-to-turnover record (min. 400 assists) – Monte Morris, Iowa State (2013-17)
Let’s just put it this way: Monte Morris has four of the top seven single-season assist-to-turnover ratios that have been recorded by the NCAA. That data only goes back to 2008 so sure, it’s a smaller sample size than other records we’ve mentioned. But that doesn’t necessarily make it any less impressive or unbreakable of a record.
Since ’08, only one player, former Oregon guard Casey Benson, has recorded a single-season assist-to-turnover ratio that’s higher than Morris’ career average.
Morris averaged just over 1.1 turnovers per game for his career while dishing out as many as 6.9 assists per game in a single season. It’s certainly possible for a player to average fewer turnovers per game or more assists per game than Morris but it’s unlikely someone can do both.
Former Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis is one of only three other players, besides Morris, to be responsible for at least two of the top 25 single-season assist-to-turnover ratios in the last decade. Ulis is currently in the NBA after being selected 34th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2016 NBA Draft and he played with roughly 10 other NBA players during his two seasons at Kentucky. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more talented supporting cast at the college level than Ulis’ teammates in Lexington.
Ulis’ career assist-to-turnover ratio was 3.56, which while impressive, was still more than an assist-per-turnover shy of Morris’ 4.65 ratio.
157 career games played – David Lighty, Ohio State (2006-11)
Since the start of the 1986 season, the single-season record for games played is 41. Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier & Co. set the record after UConn won the Big East Tournament and NCAA tournament in 2011, then five Michigan players tied that mark last season after the Wolverines made the national championship game. However, 40 games is generally considered the most a team would play in a season.
For a four-year player to break Lighty’s record, it would essentially require him – at the very minimum – to play in all of his team’s games every season, while his team makes the national championship game twice with two other Final Four appearances in a four-year span.
Are dynasties possible? Of course. Is any program immune from upsets in March Madness? No.
Plus, it would likely take a player who’s good enough to at least be a regular rotation player for an annual title contender but perhaps not so supremely talented that he would leave school early to pursue a professional future. That’s a thin line to walk.
Of course, Lighty was able to set the record because he suffered a season-ending injury in 2008, forcing him to take a medical redshirt, allowing him to play five years of college basketball. In his four full seasons, Ohio State advanced to the national championship game, the NIT championship game and the Sweet 16 twice. The Buckeyes also excelled in the Big Ten Tournament, winning the conference tournament title three times when he was a player.
The players who are second and third in career DI games played, Mercer’s Jake Gollon and BYU’s Nate Austin, played in 154 games in six seasons and 153 games in five seasons, respectively. The closest a four-year player has ever come to Lighty’s record is 152 games.