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CBT Exam Week Essays: Will a Division I player ever score 100 points in a game?

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For college students and college basketball fans, Exam Week is the worst week on the schedule. For students, this week is the culmination of three months worth of procrastination, cliff notes and Wikipedia. For college basketball fans, it’s the lightest week of hoops action we will see all season.

With so very little going on this week in terms of action, the staff at College Basketball Talk is going back to school. Over the next five days, the CBT Staff will be responsible for answering an essay question in one of five different subjects.

Tuesday: Psychology.
Wednesday: Statistics

Thursday’s exam covers physical education. But be warned, this isn’t your typical “Swim four lengths of the pool in order to get a passing grade” P.E. exam. No, this may end up being the most difficult exam of the week.

Jack Taylor, the Grinnell College sophomore, scored an NCAA-record 138 points in a game earlier this season. It was a result of the rapid and concentrated scoring style that Grinnell implements in every game. Do you believe that Division I will ever see another 100-point game in the modern era? Keep in mind Frank Selvy of Furman scored 100 in a game in 1954. Please specify potential players coaches and scenarios.

By Raphielle Johnson

If a Division I player is to ever score 100 or more points in a game it would have to be a “perfect storm” of sorts, with a number of factors needing to break in that player’s favor. The first thought was to take a look at some of the names that come up when discussing some of the game’s best “gunners.” Three players of note are Butler’s Rotnei Clarke, Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson and Louisville’s Russ Smith.

All three players average at least 17.1 points per game and have possession percentages of 25% or higher (meaning that the player accounted for at least one-quarter of his team’s total possessions), with Smith leading the way in both categories (20.3 ppg, 32.6% possession). A look at what Jack Taylor did in his 138-point outing reveals a percentage of 82.2%. For any player to have a shot at scoring 100 points it’s not about getting hot so much as it is having a coach and teammates committed to getting them the majority (if not all) of the shots. Taylor attempted 108 of Grinnell’s 136 shots and ten of their 16 free throws.

Looking at the top five scorers in the country all have possession percentages of at least 28%, with Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum (24.9 ppg) leading the way with a percentage of 33.6%. In order of their possession percentage the remainder of the top five shakes out like this: Creighton’s Doug McDermott (32.3%; 22.7 ppg), San Jose State’s James Kinney (30.3; 22.6), Central Connecticut State’s Kyle Vinales (29.4; 23.5) and Virginia Tech’s Erick Green (28.3; 24.4). But like the three gunners above, these five would need a lot of help from their coaches and teammates to achieve the opportunities needed to reach triple digits.

Those opportunities wouldn’t come solely by way of getting fed the ball on every possession either, as a ridiculously fast pace would be needed over the 40 minutes. Grinnell ran up 126 possessions in that exhibition game (125.6 to be exact, but you can’t play 0.6 of a possession), a number that’s business as usual for their program. The five teams that average the most possessions per game in college basketball today: VMI (80.7 possessions/game), Northwestern State (78.7), UTSA (77.8), Seattle (77.2) and Longwood (76.9). Of the eight scorers mentioned above Henderson’s team averages the most possessions per game, with Ole Miss ranking 21st nationally at 74.9.

To get a player to the 100-point mark would take a great deal of preparation in the preseason to get guys in the physical condition needed to play at an insanely high pace, as defensively the team would have to press all 94 feet. But in the end this is a gimmick, along the lines of Jimmy Patsos throwing a triangle-and-2 at Davidson a few years back with both players guarding Stephen Curry. Sure Loyola (MD) got some national attention, but they also ended up on the receiving end of a 30-point beating. Gimmicks to gain national attention may be of use to a school like Grinnell, but a Division I program doing so and becoming a laughing stock could get a coach fired.

There’s also the question of the player’s teammates going along with the idea. Most players, if not all, when being interviewed for recruiting sites say that they want to play fast (even those who are slower than molasses and incredibly lazy) when asked what they’re looking for in a school. That aspect won’t be much of a problem. But giving up touches so someone else can hoist away? Good luck selling that. The players may nod and say “yes, coach” when given the instructions, but will they carry it out? Not so sure, especially given the number of Division I games that are televised (the same can’t be said for Division III).

No Division I player will approach the 100-point plateau again; the folks at Furman can feel secure in the fact that Frank Selvy was the last.

* All numbers are from statsheet.com.

Professor’s Notes: Considering this feature will never be accomplished at the Division I level, you did an admirable job providing suitable candidates to do so. Your analysis of teams most likely to run enough possessions in order to get a player open for 100 points is spot-on. VMI and Central Connecticut State are the most likely candidates to put a player in position to even get close. However, it would have been great to read more about current players like Smith, Clarke and Henderson. In the right situation, say, Rotnei Clarke at Central Connecticut State, it could be plausible to see him score in the upwards of 70+ points in a single game. But as you mentioned, the perfect storm would need to occur. Also, the mention of other gimmicks, such as the triangle-and-two, scores major brownie points.


College Basketball Talk’s Top 25: Xavier, Syracuse, Texas A&M are big winners

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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At this point in the season, I think it is still too early to solely base rankings off of on-the-court results. That’s why you’re going to find North Carolina higher in this poll than likely anywhere else on the internet. Until we see what the Tar Heels look like with Marcus Paige — which, mind you, could happen on Tuesday night when they host Maryland — I’m not sure I’m ready to drop them, even for a team that looks as good as Michigan State or Kansas.

The biggest risers of the week: Xavier and Syracuse, who both won big tournaments over the Thanksgiving holiday. They also both happened to knock off rivals in the process, as the Musketeers blew out Dayton while the Orange knocked off UConn.

1. Kentucky (6-0, LW: No. 1): Kentucky got a real scare over the weekend, as Tyler Ulis hyper-extended his elbow against South Florida. He appears to be just fine.

2. Maryland (6-0, LW: No. 2): The Terps have not looked great early on this season, but they’re going to get a real test on Tuesday when they visit UNC.

3. North Carolina (5-1, LW: No. 3): Here’s to hoping Marcus Paige is healthy when Maryland comes to visit this week.

4. Michigan State (7-0, LW: No. 4): Denzel Valentine has been sensational this season, but the most impressive part of Michigan State’s win over Providence on Sunday was that they did it while Valentine was in foul trouble and struggling to shoot the ball.

5. Kansas (4-1, LW: No. 6): The Jayhawks had a pretty good week. They won Maui, they blew out a good Vanderbilt team, Wayne Selden showed up and Cheick Diallo got eligible. I hope Bill Self bought some lottery tickets.

6. Villanova (6-0, LW: No. 5): I really like the Wildcats this year, I do, but I dropped them a spot for two reasons: 1. I thought Kansas was better entering the season and the Jayhawks looked terrific this week in Maui, before Cheick Diallo played, and 2. Villanova hasn’t beaten anyone of note yet. Next Monday they get Oklahoma. We’ll know then.

7. Iowa State (5-0, LW: No. 7): The Cyclones are 5-0 with wins over three high-major programs, but their best win may be the win over Chattanooga. I think we’ll really get a feel for how good this team next month, when, in a 12-day stretch, they get Iowa, Northern Iowa and Cincinnati on the road.

8. Oklahoma (4-0, LW: No. 8): The Sooners put a whooping on Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon, the kind of performance that made it very clear Oklahoma is a contender this season and Wisconsin is not. Buddy Hield has been terrific, but so has big man Ryan Spangler.

9. Duke (6-1, LW: No. 10): The loss to Kentucky continues to look like the aberration in Duke’s early season schedule, as they rolled over Utah State and Yale this week. The big news: Luke Kennard has finally found his rhythm, as he scored 22 points and went 4-for-5 from the floor on Sunday.

10. Virginia (5-1, LW: No. 11): Virginia has won four straight since their loss at GW, scoring at least 80 points in every game and never giving up more than 66. It’s not the stiffest of competition, but it should go to show you (like I said at the time) that the loss at GW said more about GW than Virginia.

11. Xavier (7-0, LW: No. 21)
12. Purdue (6-0, LW: No. 15)
13. Vanderbilt (5-1, LW: No. 16)
14. Miami (5-1, LW: No. 9)
15. Syracuse (6-0, LW: UR)
16. Texas A&M (6-1, LW: UR)
17. Gonzaga (4-1, LW: No. 17)
18. Oregon (5-0, LW: No. 25)
19. Cincinnati (7-0, LW: No. 20)
20. Baylor (4-1, LW: No. 22)
21. Butler (4-1, LW: No. 23)
22. UConn (4-2, LW: No. 18)
23. Providence (6-1, LW: UR)
24. West Virginia (6-0, LW: UR)
25. SMU (4-0, LW: UR)

DROPPED OUT: No. 12 Cal, No. 13 Arizona, No. 14 Indiana, No. 19 Notre Dame, No. 24 Wichita State

WEEKLY AWARDS: Denzel Valentine’s big week, Kansas makes a statement

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

In the title game of the Wooden Legacy, a game that was billed as a matchup between the two best players in college basketball — Valentine and Kris Dunn — Valentine was downright bad …

… by his standards. He finished with “just” 17 points, six assists and five boards. I say “just” because, in the previous two games of the tournament, the Spartan superstar averaged 30.5 points, 10.0 boards and 8.0 assists. He’s been, hands down, the best player in college basketball this season, and that didn’t change this week.


  • Ben Bentil, Providence: Kris Dunn is the guy that is going to get all the national praise, but it was Bentil’s emergence that was critical for the Friars. He averaged 21.7 points and 6.0 boards in three games in the Wooden Legacy, carrying PC when Dunn was battling foul issues.
  • Wayne Selden, Kansas: The highlight of Selden’s week was scoring 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the Maui title game win over No. 19 Vanderbilt. For the week, he averaged 19.3 points and shot 12-for-17 from three.
  • Justin Robinson, Monmouth: Robinson averaged 25.7 points in three games for Monmouth at the Advocare Invitational. The Hawks beat No. 17 Notre Dame and USC in the process, only losing to Dayton by three.
  • Justin Jackson, North Carolina: Remember when Justin Jackson was struggling? He averaged 21.5 points, 9.0 boards and 5.0 assists in wins over Northwestern and Kansas State. That came on the heels of a 25-point performance in the loss at Northern Iowa.
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette: Ellenson notched three straight double-doubles for the Golden Eagles this week, which included 16 points and 11 boards in a win over Ben Simmons and LSU.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas headed out to Maui as a team that many weren’t really sure what to make of. They looked good against Michigan State for 30 minutes, then they blew that game as Denzel Valentine went bananas. They had as much depth as anyone in the country, but Brannen Greene was suspended, Cheick Diallo was ineligible and Wayne Selden was the most notable of a handful of talented players that had been somewhere between inconsistent and ineffective this year.

That all changed in Maui — well, other than Greene’s suspension — as Kansas rolled over Chaminade, UCLA and Vanderbilt to bring home the tournament title. Blowing out Chaminade was to be expected. But beating down a talented UCLA team? Dominating a very good Vanderbilt squad? That’s the Kansas we’ve been hoping to see show up for a few years now. The question is whether or not it’s sustainable, and at least on paper, it appears to be. Selden’s shooting percentages will come back to earth, but his raw numbers are less important than his confidence and aggressiveness. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham are going to continue to take pressure off of each other in the back court. Perry Ellis isn’t going anywhere.

I questioned whether or not Kansas was truly one of the nation’s elite when the season started. I think they answered that question for me.


  • Xavier: The Musketeers not only won the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, they blew out in-state — and former Atlantic 10 — rival Dayton in the finals.
  • Syracuse: The Orange are going to be a factor in the ACC this season. How much? I don’t know. But after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis by knocking off No. 18 UConn and No. 25 Texas A&M, it’s clear they’re going to be involved all season.
  • Northeastern: The Huskies picked up a road win against No. 15 Miami on this buzzer-beating jumper.
  • Arkansas-Little Rock: The Trojans picked up their second huge road win of the year, going into Tulsa and knocking off the Golden Hurricane. They’re now 5-0 on the season, having also won at SDSU.
  • Tournament winners: West Virginia knocked off Richmond and San Diego State to bring home the Las Vegas Invitational title, No. 24 Cincinnati beat Nebraska and George Washington in the Barclays Center Classic and Marquette knocked off LSU and Arizona State to win the Legends Classic.


Tuesday: No. 2 Maryland at No. 9 North Carolina, 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Butler at No. 24 Cincinnati, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday: Louisville at No. 3 Michigan State, 7:15 p.m.
Wednesday: No. 13 Indiana at No. 6 Duke, 9:15 p.m.
Saturday: No. 11 Arizona at No. 10 Gonzaga, 3:15 p.m.