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No. 3 in The Untouchables: Frank Selvy scores 100 points in a game

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Frank Selvy poses for a photo in 2004 on the 50th anniversary of his 100-point game (AP)

The Untouchables is a 10-part series spotlighting college basketball's most unbreakable records. Up next is No. 3: Frank Selvy's 100-point game.

The only Division I basketball player ever to score 100 points in a game doesn't believe it's as monumental an accomplishment as everyone else does.

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He seldom mentions it unless asked about it. He always points out the opposing team was mediocre at best. He even insists it's not the memory from his college career he cherishes most, instead citing an upset of heavily favored Duke two years earlier.

"It's something I got a lot of attention for, but I'm not really proud of it," former Furman star Frank Selvy said. "Sometimes I'm almost embarrassed I scored that many points. I hadn't planned to do anything like that. It was just something that happened."

Whether Selvy downplays it or not, his astonishing 100-point performance against Division II Newberry College in 1954 is a record likely to stand for generations. Only five other Division I players in college basketball history have even scored 70 points in a game and nobody besides Selvy has ever put up more than 85.

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The notion that Selvy would one day emerge as one of the great scorers of his era would have seemed far-fetched just a few years earlier when the South's top programs deemed the Corbin, Ky. native unworthy of a scholarship.

Selvy dreamed of playing for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky, but the legendary Wildcats coach told the 6-foot, 150-pound center that he was too scrawny to play in the paint in college. Only after Selvy grew three inches, put on 30 pounds of muscle and dominated a pair of all-star games following his senior season did programs like Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee change their minds.

Since Selvy had already committed to play for coach Lyles Alley at Furman, he reluctantly opted to turn down the higher-profile programs rather than going back on his word. It turned out to be a wise decision because Selvy flourished at Furman with the freedom to play more on the perimeter and to shoot at will, averaging 24.6 points as a sophomore, 29.5 as a junior and a stunning 43.8 as a senior.

"Sticking with Furman is probably the best thing I've ever done," Selvy said. "My mother was extremely religious. We were brought up not to lie or go back on your word. That's the way us mountain people were."

Furman went 39-12 and upset Duke, Georgia, South Carolina and Georgia Tech during the 1951-52 and 52-53 seasons, but it was Selvy's scoring exploits that earned the program national attention. The man nicknamed "the Corbin Comet" lit up Mercer College for 63 points as a junior, a mere prelude for the onslaught against Newberry the following year.

Selvy had plenty of incentive to deliver a memorable performance against Newberry because Alley designated the game "Frank Selvy Night" in an effort to get the senior standout some All-America recognition.

The game was the first sporting event to be televised in the state of South Carolina. Among the dozens of Selvy's friends and family who made the 250-mile drive from Corbin to Greenville was his mother, who'd never seen him play in college before.

"It was a big deal," Selvy said. "I didn't usually get very nervous when I played in college, but I was a little apprehensive that game."

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Almost from the outset, it became clear Selvy would have a big night.

He fouled out Newberry's top defender Bobby Bailey in less than three minutes. He scored 24 first-quarter points and increased his tally to 37 by halftime. And despite constant double- and triple-teams in the second half, he tied his career high of 63 points by the end of the third quarter.

With his teammates feeding him the ball nearly every possession and the PA announcer updating his point total after every made bucket, Selvy began scoring at an even more torrid pace in the final quarter. Two baskets in the final minute enabled Selvy to reach 98 points. Then on Furman's final possession, he broke free from a group of defenders and sank a shot from about 35 feet to get to 100 as the final buzzer sounded.

"It was sort of a jump-push shot from almost midcourt," Selvy said. "The crowd went wild and all the students came out, lifted me on their shoulders and carried me around and all that. It was just wild."

Selvy finished 41 of 66 from the field that day and 18 of 22 from the foul line, incredible statistics even against subpar competition.

"I've had thousands of people come up and tell me they were at the game when actually they probably saw it on television," Selvy said.

Whether they saw it from the bleachers or their couches, they all witnessed a performance that may never be duplicated.

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