You know what drives me crazy? Actually, let me rephrase that (since it’s such a long list). You know what’s driving me crazy today?
Answer: The following sentence, which appeared in stories after Texas Tech’s Mike Singletary scored an incredible 29 straight points for the Red Raiders in their 88-83 dumbfounding of Texas A&M in the Big 12 tournament.
[Singletary’s] run of consecutive points without a teammate scoring is the second longest in NCAA history, behind only 54 in a row by Bill Mlkvy of Temple in a game against Wilkes on March 3, 1951.
Wilkes. We’re comparing something a major-college basketball player did against other major-college basketball players – in a conference tourney, no less – to something a major-college basketball player did against a bunch of small-college players. Lovely.
Look, I know Tech vs. A&M was a late game and writers were up against deadline, so let me provide some context.
Wilkes (Wilkes College then, Wilkes University now) is in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. – home of Joe Palooka, the heavyweight champion of the comics page. As late as 1947, it was a junior college affiliated with Bucknell. There was no Division III in ’51, but Wilkes essentially played D-3 competition – Lycoming, Hartwick, Scranton, the mighty Susquehanna Crusaders, schools like that. Probably its high point of the season was a victory over Harpur College in which it topped 100 points. I mention this only because Harpur, now Binghamton University, is Tony Kornheiser’s alma mater (class of ’70).
Anyway, the last game on Wilkes’ 1950-51 schedule was against Temple and the aforementioned Mlkvy (pronounced Milk-vee), a 6-foot-4 All-American who had one of the greatest nicknames ever: “The Owl Without A Vowel.” Mlkvy, closing out his junior year, had a shot at breaking the NCAA record for scoring average in a season, and his teammates were more than willing to help him. So once Temple had things under control – which wasn’t long after the opening tip – he started shooting just about every time down the floor. He wound up hoisting 69 shots, making 32, and added nine free throws to total 73 points. His final average of 29.3 did indeed break the scoring mark … and oh yes, the Owls won the game, 99-69.
(Mlkvy’s comment afterward: “Now maybe I can concentrate on my dental studies. You know, I find pulling teeth much harder than making baskets.”)
Compare that travesty with what Singletary did Wednesday night. Early in the second half, Texas Tech, the tournament’s 11th seed, trailed A&M by 21 and appeared to be headed back to Lubbock, possibly in a wooden box. But with 9:35 to go – and the deficit down to 10 – Singletary started making everything he looked at, as golfers say … and didn’t stop. A layup, two foul shots, a jumper, a three-pointer, and he was off on the most remarkable scoring streak you or I are likely to see. Nine amazing minutes later, he put in another lay-in for consecutive points Nos. 28 and 29, giving the Red Raiders a 79-78 lead. They pulled away to win 88-83 and retain an ever-so-faint NCAA tourney pulse.
No disrespect to Bill Mlkvy, but I’ll take Singletary’s streak any day. The Tech sophomore set a Big 12 tournament scoring record with 43 points (more than three times his average) and led a huge underdog to a memorable victory. How can that not be the greatest scoring binge in NCAA history – period, end of story?
Thus endeth the first installment of Things In Sports That Drive Me Crazy. More – many more – later.
– Dan Daly