Memorable First Round Performances
Certainly, you remember Christian Laettner’s performance against Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional Final, where he was not only perfect from the foul line and the field, but also hit “the shot.” But do you remember Connecticut’s Tony Kimball pulling down 29 rebounds against St. Joseph’s in 1965?
Well, in all likelihood, probably not, because, for starters, who on earth is Tony Kimball? And, also, he did it in the first round, where there’s considerably less fanfare, so that’s perhaps another reason why.
Regardless, as we head into tomorrow’s first round match-ups, keep Kimball in mind, as well as these other extraordinary opening round performances from years gone by:
Elvin Hayes, Houston (1968): The Big E scored 49 points and snatched 27 rebounds against Loyola-Chicago. To this day, he’s the only player ever to score more than 40 points and tally more than 25 rebounds in a tournament game.
Austin Carr, Notre Dame (1970): While most players would be lucky to get 21 points in an entire game, Carr got that in the first 11 minutes, and didn’t stop until he scored a tournament record 61 in Notre Dame’s 112-82 victory over Ohio. In three tournament games that year he averaged 52.7, another record.
David Robinson, Navy (1987): Entering the tournament as the nation’s player of year, averaging 28 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks, Robinson did not disappoint as he went off for 50 against Michigan. However, in a testament to the Admiral’s exceptionally ordinary supporting cast, the Midshipmen still lost by 15.
Bo Kimble, Loyola-Marymount (1990): Kimball torched New Mexico State for 45 points and 18 rebounds less than two weeks after his childhood friend, Hank Gathers, died on the court during the West Coast Conference tournament. In a memorable tribute to his fallen teammate, Kimble, who was right-handed, shot his free throws left handed, just as Gathers, a notoriously poor free-throw shooter, had done. Making the performance all the more impressive: Kimble played the entire second half with four fouls. The Lions won the game 111-92.
Shaquille O’Neal, LSU (1992): Going up against 7’6’’ Shawn Bradley, Shaq put up a triple-double, scoring 26 points, 13 rebounds and a tournament record 11 blocks, as seventh-seeded LSU beat BYU 94-83. As a side note, and certainly not to take anything way from the Daddy’s performance, but considering his physical prowess—especially relative to college players—how in the world were the Tigers only a seven seed?
Sam Crawford, New Mexico State (1993): The nation’s leader in assists that year, Crawford tallied 16 helpers to go along with 20 points in the Aggies’ 93-79 win over Nebraska. His 16 assists are tied for the second most ever in a tournament game, behind Mark Wade of UNLV, who had 18.
Bryce Drew, Valporaiso (1998): Clearly, putting up 22 points and scoring a big upset, while impressive, doesn’t compare to the others. Yet, hitting one of the most famous shots in tournament history has to count for something. Trailing Ole Miss 69-67 with 2.5 seconds remaining, Valpo’s Bill Jenkins corralled a three-quarter-court pass and in one motion threw the ball to his left where an onrushing Drew sank a game winning 22-footer.
Harold Arceneaux, Weber State (1999): Nicknamed “the show,” Arceneaux hit 5 of 7 three-point attempts on his way to 36 points, including 20 in the second half, as the 14th-seed, Weber State, upset perennial power North Carolina.