As it turns out, scoring a ridiculous amount of points may not be great for your team. We looked at the nine highest-scoring individual games in history against DI competition — and only four actually came in a win.
Still, there’s no denying the individual efforts’ prestige. Here is each one:
9. Pete Maravich (LSU) — 64 points
Feb. 21, 1970 vs. Kentucky
Pete Maravich owns the first, second, and third highest point-per-game total in Division I history. So, yeah, he appears on this list a couple times. In 1970, Maravich scored 1,381 points, averaging 44.5 per game — both good for the most ever. But LSU went 22-10 on the season, and even when Maravich played lights out, LSU was beatable. The Tigers lost this game to Kentucky 121-105.
T7. Scott Haffner (Evansville) — 65 points
Feb. 18, 1989 vs. Dayton
Haffner had one advantage Maravich did not — the 3-point line. And Haffner made the most of it. The 6-4 senior guard was a ridiculous 23-for-29 from the field, including, 11-for-13 from beyond the arc against Dayton in this game. This quote from the Associated Press’ article on the game is great:
“I really didn’t know how many I had until fairly late in the game,” he said. “A Dayton player was at the free throw line . . .I just happened to glance into the crowd. One of the fans held up five fingers on one hand and one on the other.”
Evansville would win, 109-83.
T7. Anthony Roberts (Oral Roberts) — 65 points
Mar. 9, 1977 vs. Oregon
It’s one thing to score 65 points in the postseason (Roberts’ tally broke the record for NIT single-game scoring), but to do it in a game that had only 179 total points is crazy. Roberts racked up 25 field goals and 15 free throws, but Oral Roberts fell to Oregon 90-89, thanks in large part to Greg Ballard’s 43 points — an Oregon record that was slightly overshadowed on the night.
T4. Anthony Roberts (Oral Roberts) — 66 points
Feb. 19, 1977 vs. N.C. A&T
Roberts’ second entry on the list comes as a footnote in most accounts of the player’s tenure with Oral Roberts, but his quote from the night — printed in the Hattiesburg American — stands on its own:
“Roberts, the Oral Roberts guard who scored 66 against North Carolina A&T Saturday, reflected on his team play, saying “I even had two assists…”
The Golden Eagles would win 110-64 to move to 17-5 on the season.
T4. Pete Maravich (LSU) — 66 points
Feb. 10, 1969 vs. Tulane
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 10, 2013
You know you’re playing well when the scorekeeper runs out of room to record your points (see above). Looking at that box score also gives us a better idea of the Tigers’ game plan: LSU had 36 field goals (25 by Maravich) and only four assists. Despite Maravich’s 66 points (then his highest total ever), LSU lost 110-94. What’s more, this wasn’t even the highest-scoring individual game this year, thanks to Niagara’s Calvin Murphy (more on that below).
T4. Jay Handlan (Washington & Lee) — 66 points
Feb. 17, 1951 vs. Furman
If you’re going to set an NCAA record, might as well set two at the same time, right? That’s what Jay Handlan did, taking 71 shots (an NCAA record) in a 97-82 win over Furman. In 2018, Villanova took 2,440 shots — more than any other team — for an average of 61 per game. Again, Handlan had 71.
3. Calvin Murphy (Niagara) — 68 points
Dec. 7, 1968 vs. Syracuse
It’s not every day that you score 110 points and lose a game, but Syracuse can thank Murphy for that one. The 5-foot-9 guard added six assists and six rebounds, too (making for one of the more well-rounded 60-point games). From Syracuse.com, the Orange’s Bob Kouwe gave the first-hand perspective of guarding Murphy that night:
“We had Ernie Austin guard him. We had John Suder guard him. We had Ray Balukas guard him. I guarded him. But there was no way. None. He was the fastest human being you’ve ever seen. He could run faster dribbling than anybody could run without a ball, and he never mis-dribbled. So how do you cover that?
“We picked him up as soon as he crossed center court. We tried a box-and-one. We double-teamed him. We tripled-teamed him. We’d play defense on him when we had the ball on the offensive end, and I’m serious about that. But it was fruitless. There was no playing Calvin Murphy. It was a total loss even trying.”
2. Pete Maravich (LSU) — 69 points
Feb. 7, 1970 vs. Alabama
Against Alabama, Maravich scored 47 points… in the second half. What may be more impressive than the 69 points is the fact that Maravich took 57 shots to get there. No, it’s no 71 like Handlan, but still crazy in its own right. Last year, Northern Colorado’s Andre Spight led Division I with 17.4 field goal attempts per game. Maravich more than tripled that. Despite giving up what would stand as the scoring record for 21 years, a 5-12 Alabama team was able to withstand the onslaught, beating LSU 106-104.
1. Kevin Bradshaw (United States International) — 72 points
Jan. 5, 1991 vs. Loyola Marymount
United States International University basketball did not go quietly into the night. In the program’s final season (after the university declared bankruptcy), the Gulls played Loyola Marymount in a game that would set two major records: individual points in a game (by Bradshaw), and team points in a game (by Loyola Marymount, which won 186-140). Bradshaw played the entire game, going 23-for-59 from the field, including 7-for-22 on 3-pointers.