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The Loneliest Number

Dec. 31, 2012
Dec. 31, 2012

Table of Contents
Dec. 31, 2012

LEADING OFF
THE MAIL
BEST MOMENTS OF 2012
  • HOW DO YOU MEASURE A YEAR IN SPORTS? IN MIRACLE COMEBACKS, IN LAST-SECOND SHOTS, IN VICTORY LEAPS, IN MIND-BLOWING LAPS. ONCE AGAIN WE ASKED SI'S FACEBOOK FANS TO PICK THE YEAR'S MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT. AN ALLTIME OLYMPIAN'S FINAL ASCENT TO THE PODIUM STOOD ABOVE THE REST, BUT THERE WAS PLENTY MORE TO CELEBRATE—AND TO MARVEL AT

  • SIX TEAMS, EIGHT HOURS, THREE OVERTIMES, 10 LEAD CHANGES AND 206 POINTS: HOW ONE EVENING IN NOVEMBER SHAPED THE BCS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHUP AND BECAME, EASILY, THE BEST DAY OF SPORTS IN 2012

  • By Ed Feng

    WHO WILL WIN? OUR ANALYTICS EXPERT, AN ENGINEERING PH.D. FROM STANFORD AND THE BRAINS BEHIND THEPOWERRANK.COM, WENT INSIDE THE TENDENCIES OF BOTH CONTENDERS THIS SEASON TO CREATE A SIMULATION THAT MAY BE CLOSER TO REALITY THAN REALITY ITSELF

  • FOR ONE MAGICAL APRIL AFTERNOON, PHILIP HUMBER WAS FLAWLESS. BUT THAT RANDOM SMILE FROM THE PITCHING GODS CAME WITH A HEAVY BURDEN: THE PRESSURE TO LIVE UP TO A STANDARD NO ONE CAN MEET

  • GRINNELL'S JACK TAYLOR IS THE LATEST MEMBER OF A TINY FRATERNITY OF PLAYERS WHO SCORED AT LEAST 100 POINTS IN A COLLEGE OR NBA GAME. THE QUESTION IS, AT WHAT COST?

  • A BOWLER AND SEVERAL BRAWLERS, COACHES AND A CARD SHARP, TWO SLUGGERS AND A TACKLE WHO SLUGGED A HORSE—LUMINARIES OF ALL SORTS PASSED AWAY IN 2012

Departments

The Loneliest Number

GRINNELL'S JACK TAYLOR IS THE LATEST MEMBER OF A TINY FRATERNITY OF PLAYERS WHO SCORED AT LEAST 100 POINTS IN A COLLEGE OR NBA GAME. THE QUESTION IS, AT WHAT COST?

His mother. He wanted the number because of her. She had never seen him play, so he decided that if he scored 100 points on the night she was in the stands, she might come to understand him, or at least never have any doubt about how good he was. Almost 59 years ago in the middle of February, Frank Selvy's mother rode the L&N Railroad from Corbin, Ky., to Greenville, S.C. She sat in a gym on the second floor of Furman's Textile Hall for a basketball game against Newberry College, the first and only one of his games she would ever see. Frank was a 6'3" senior center. His nickname was the Corbin Comet. He was so fast that it took only two seconds for him to score the first basket, off the opening tip. He looked for his mother in the crowd. Iva Selvy had raised 10 children in a wooden house with a coal stove while her husband went to work in a coal mine. As the game progressed, Frank scored so often that the fans rattled the bleachers each time he touched the ball, thumping the floor with their shoes. The P.A. announcer called out his increasing point total, as if in expectation. At one point his coach sat the other four starters and told everyone else to pass Frank the ball. He felt magical that night. He was hitting hook shots as though he were still practicing on the goal he had made out of wood and planted on top of a hill near his house. Frank took the last shot of the game too, a running one-hander, with Furman up by 52. He was just past midcourt, three players from Newberry around him. He had 98 points, the most anyone had ever scored in a Division I game. The ball left his fingers as the clock expired. He would be named first-team All-America, would be picked No. 1 in the 1954 NBA draft, would play nine seasons in the pros and then work 25 years in sales for the St. Joe Paper Company in Laurens, S.C. After the game he was carried around the court on the shoulders of a mob, oblivious to what the number would eventually mean. The ball had gone in. And he would live with 100 forever. His mother found him on the court. She asked, "Why did you do that?"

This is an article from the Dec. 31, 2012 issue

His coach. Another man wanted the number because of his coach. Bevo Francis would end up with the highest single-season scoring average in college basketball history, 46.5 points per game. His real name was Clarence; the nickname was from his father, who liked to drink Bevo, the nonalcoholic malt beverage made by Anheuser-Busch. Bevo was 6'9". He developed a beautiful jump shot from playing for hours on the hay floor of a barn near his house in Wellsville, Ohio, and shooting at a basket in the parking lot of a Methodist church. His coach's name was Newt Oliver. Newt was a foot shorter than Bevo and a former boxer, with blue eyes and a square jaw and a sharp tongue. He was a shrewd man and hated to lose. Bevo played for Newt at Division II Rio Grande (Ohio) College, which had 94 students. Newt wanted Bevo to score as many points as he could. And to get to one number in particular—100—to draw national attention to the school. And 100 seemed like a magical number that no one could ever achieve, a number that would immortalize a team that played in a gym called the Hog Pen with a black-tile court and three rows of folding chairs instead of stands. Bevo scored the points his coach wanted, with his beautiful jump shots, sometimes taking every shot after halftime. For two seasons, 1952--53 and '53--54, he was the most famous basketball player in the world. But neither Bevo nor his coach knew how hollow numbers could eventually become. Newt got fired in 1954 partly because the administration didn't like all the publicity drawn by that much scoring. Bevo dropped out of school, barnstormed for a while and later went to work in a steel mill and then for Goodyear tires in Akron. He tired of numbers. He raised a family, and grew old. Fed his hunting dogs. Tended vegetables in his garden. He was happy sitting in the quiet of a small boat on Lake Jackson, in the wooded black, listening to the frogs. Through the years, occasionally his phone would ring while he was asleep. The voices would ask, "Did you really score 113 points in a game?"

His slump. Jack Taylor wanted to break out of his slump. Jack was from a farm in Black River Falls, Wis. He was 22 years old. He had a good jumper that he never stopped working on. He was a dedicated student of basketball, something he loved as much as anything in the world. He read books about basketball. He watched instructional videos about basketball. As a teenager he once practiced for hours, then hid beneath the bleachers when the gym closed, waiting quietly in the dark after the janitor left to make sure no one would see him. He turned the lights on and started shooting again, until three in the morning. When he was recruited out of Black River Falls High, he was told he had the potential to be the best scorer ever at Division III Grinnell (Iowa) College, a place of prolific and often record-breaking scoring. He turned the school down twice, but he ended up there three years later, old enough to be a college graduate. Last month, in his first two games with Grinnell—a team that likes to run fast, press full-court and shoot lots of three-pointers—he had made only six treys, troubling his coaches. In his third game, against Faith Baptist College of Ankeny, Iowa, an opponent the Pioneers were going to beat anyway, his coaches wanted to see what he could do if they just let him keep shooting. So they designed the game plan around him. He was told it was his night to shine. To maybe even break a record. To get what his coaches describe as "a number." As the game wore on, all he wanted to do was score.

This is a story about really wanting something, and then living with it once it's yours. About a number that almost no one else will ever have. About how it feels, and how it happens.

The wind moans in the middle of Iowa. Gym lights glow into the darkness through the glass windows above the court. Jack Taylor is inside, practicing with his teammates. At 5'10", he is one of the smallest players on the floor. Back home on the farm, his mother calls him Little Jack, because his father is also named Jack, and he is 6'2". Little Jack's bedroom is covered with so many posters, mostly of Kobe Bryant, that the wall paint is barely visible. In his keepsake box there is a ticket stub his aunt gave him from the night Kobe scored 81 points, one of the most amazing nights in NBA history. Jack also has a tape of the game that he purchased on eBay. In fourth grade he would not sign his real name to homework assignments; he would sign Kobe in the blank space. So his teacher called him Kobe. The whole year.

Jack spent his childhood studying his favorite NBA players, such as Kobe and Ray Allen, trying to copy the way they played. He asked for ball-handling-drill videos for Christmas and wrote down notes about each of the videos' 150 moves. He practiced stationary dribbling next to a wood furnace in the basement of the farmhouse, then crossed out the move on a piece of paper with a pencil and went on to the next drill. On a gravel driveway Jack took the twine used to bind bales of hay, tied pieces together and measured them out to the three-point line.

In the Grinnell gym, Jack is wearing white Nikes and black socks. Perspiration glistens on his forehead beneath the lights. He is taking three-pointers, one after the other. One draws net, the next draws net, and then two more nudge the rim with a plunk. He keeps shooting. When he jumps and hits his release point, his left, off elbow kicks out slightly, and his left thumb flicks against the ball, like Reggie Miller's. After the game against Faith Baptist, Jack Taylor was trending worldwide on Twitter.

David Arsenault, the 58-year-old Grinnell coach, walks slowly and repeatedly around the court. His son, Dave, who used to play for his dad and got the NCAA assists record with 34 in 2007, is also on the court, watching the team. Dave is 26 and has been the de facto Grinnell coach the past two years. He makes the game-planning decisions. The players do not practice defense. They don't run sprints. They just practice five on zero, setting screens and shooting threes.

On Nov. 20, Jack Taylor scored 138 points against Faith Baptist, smashing the old NCAA record, 113, that Bevo Francis held for more than half a century. The number sounds impossible when spoken aloud, but it seemed probable midway through the second half, when Jack cleared 100, with the student section on its feet; and then it seemed arbitrary, when he finally got hot and left the old record in the dust. At one point in the game Jack was nearly blind with exhaustion, but he wanted to keep scoring.

"Maybe I'm shallow. Maybe I'm crazy," the elder Arsenault says, "but I believe in giving kids moments in sports where they can feel good about themselves. Getting our best players playing at a higher level, which is going to make us better. And the best way to do that is to let them shoot for records. We understand that there is silliness here, but seriously, what we want is just a competitive team. And in order to get that, you need good athletes and fan support, and a kind of gimmicky game like this, every once in a while, gives us a real boost. It's also a reward thing. We were just trying to break Jack out of his slump and give him a moment. And there was the possibility that it could lead to a little bit more attention."

Jack became an immediate curiosity. After the game he answered questions in more than a dozen interviews, surrounded by people from the sports information office at Grinnell. Anyone who called the office that night got a little piece of him, a small taste of what he was feeling; he barely had time to talk to his parents, who waited for him to take a break. He did interviews the next morning and interviews that afternoon. He talked to Jimmy Kimmel and Good Morning America and gave his game socks to The Dan Patrick Show. He did interviews after the Pioneers' next game, against William Penn on Nov. 25, when all he could offer everyone watching was 21 points. He got autograph requests and asked his coach what XOXO meant, and his coach told him, hugs and kisses. His parents began to fear that the media storm would consume him, change him; so they asked his coaches to make sure he was eating and sleeping and still going to class. His parents hugged him and told him they were proud of him and they loved him. "You could see it in his face," says Ross Preston, a former Grinnell player who is writing a book about Pioneers basketball. "He was exhausted."

Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN that if Jack had taken even half of those 108 shots at any park in New York City, he'd have been punched in the face. Others on Twitter and YouTube called Jack a ball hog and a disgrace to the game. People phoned the SID's office and left messages that said, "This is disgusting." The Grinnell offensive system—called the System—was disparaged as a sham, as an embarrassment. The coaches were called morons. Jack's girlfriend told him he was amazing.

In all the years that passed after Frank Selvy scored 100 points, when he spoke of that number it was to confess to people that he was embarrassed by it, almost ashamed that he had participated in such an act of vanity. He remembers everything about the game, though. As he sits at his kitchen table in a house near Greenville, wearing black Velcro-strap shoes and a ball cap that hangs over the liver spots on his forehead, as the grandfather clock on the wall above the door frame chimes at the half hour, he remembers the old wood of the gym, with its humps and warped boards, and the ball making a toneless thump on the floor. The TV crew, the first ever to broadcast a game live in the state of South Carolina. The caravan of cars coming from his hometown, Corbin. His mother finding him after the game. And being certain that 100 was his destiny. He remembers that he knew the last shot was going in.

"Oh," he says, "it was meant to be. I knew that when it left my hand. You do something like that, and you think later, What in the hell have I done?"

He takes a Kleenex out of his pocket and blows his nose. He is 80 years old. There is a Yorkshire terrier in his lap, with a small pink tongue that hangs out of its mouth. Frank shares a birthday with the dog. The dog's name is Poopsie. "Yes, Poop," he says, as his large hands, which once scored so many points, roll softly over the little dog's ears.

"I always looked back on that, I just didn't feel very proud of doing it," he says. "But I wanted it at the moment, yes."

On the table is a stack of scrapbooks, each with a pocked cover and a broken spine, each big enough to hold large newspaper clippings. The clippings are loose inside, so when the pages open, some of the ancient articles spill onto the table. SELVY'S CENTURY MARK HIGHLIGHTS CAGE THRILLS.... SELVY SCORES 100 POINTS, SMASHES RECORDS.... SELVY'S PROUD FAMILY GIVEN OVATION BY FANS.... Some of the clippings were gifts that people around South Carolina bestowed on him as a sign of their appreciation. The game was all anyone ever wanted to ask him about. Some people he met recently on the golf course stood there and Googled him during their conversation.

It is hard to measure the greatest thing a man achieves in his life. Frank Selvy has children, grandchildren and a wife of 53 years. The number 100 was what defined him more than anything else, though. He remains the only player to score 100 in a Division I game.

"When my mother said, 'Why'd you do that?' I didn't know what she meant," he says. "After all these years, I guess she was saying, 'Did you do that for me?' It was a selfish thing."

The court at Furman was 84 feet long, the length of a modern high school court. There was no three-point line. The opposing team's best defensive player, guarding Frank, fouled out in the first 2½ minutes. No one else could guard Frank. He started scoring as if he were back home in Corbin, shooting 300 hook shots with his right hand and 300 with his left every afternoon on the goal he had built for himself. After a while, he remembers, Furman stopped guarding Newberry's players, letting them make layups so Frank could get the ball back and score faster.

"My coach wanted me to score as many points as I could score, and get as many rebounds," Frank says. "That's what I did every game. I got a lot of offensive rebounds and putbacks and fouls. That's how I was able to score so many points."

The university gave him the ball after the game as a token. He gave it to his five younger brothers in Kentucky, who played with it until it fell apart.

"I'd like to know how that kid did that," Frank says of Jack Taylor. "How many shots did he take? That's the most amazing thing I've ever heard of in basketball."

Jack took 108 shots, 42 more than Frank did almost 59 years earlier. He played 36 minutes. He took 32 threes in the first half alone, and he made only nine of them. A lot of those shots were frustratingly close to going in. He had 58 points at halftime, though. He made several layups by dribbling like one of those pro players he admired so much, stopping suddenly, then crossing over, lulling his defender to sleep and then blasting by him. That style did not exactly fit the System at Grinnell, which is designed to score quickly, in 12 seconds. The System is simple and fun to watch, unless you hate three-pointers. It stresses five statistical categories, called hustle goals. When the goals are met, the team wins. Coach Arsenault actually had one of his classes research the numbers, in the mid-1990s. Over the last 20 years, Grinnell has lost only three times in 40-minute games in which the goals were met. Those goals are to attempt 94 shots, take 47 of them from three-point range, rebound a third of all misses, force 32 turnovers and shoot 25 more times than the opponent. Grinnell has led the NCAA in scoring 15 of the last 17 years.

The morning of the Faith Baptist game, Jack had been nervous about his slump. And about the idea that he would be taking so many shots and would be expected to have 20 points by the 10-minute mark or he'd come out, and the team would resume its regular brand of play, with three rotations of five players, a new team of shooters subbed in after every whistle.

He awoke in his single room on the second floor of Norris Dorms a bit earlier than normal and went to one of the academic buildings on campus to study 45 minutes for a calculus test. He had his standard breakfast of eggs and tater tots and apple juice. He had a three-hour biology class, studying yeast cultures. He listened to some Eminem, hoping the music's dark urgency would pump him up. Before tip-off, in a circle in the empty auxiliary locker room, he and several other players listened to the team's assistant manager, Aamir Walton, read a passage from the Bible that was essentially about maximizing potential.

A week later, Jack is in the student cafeteria at lunchtime with a bowl of stir-fry, two glasses of milk and two chocolate-chip cookies on his plastic tray. There is a spray of acne below his chin and on his forehead. He could not grow a beard if he tried. He is wearing an old Batman T-shirt. He is a biochem major who wants to be a pharmacist because of the hours, which would allow him to have a normal family life. He has taken out $10,000 in student loans to attend Grinnell. One of the coolest things about his new notoriety is that Kobe mentioned him after he heard about the 138-point game.

"All the critics who like to criticize me on the game," Jack begins, mocking a cocky attitude, "well, Kobe said, 'Anyone who scores 138 points, he can tell all the people to kiss my ... ass.' " He whispers that last word. Jack is smiling, partly joking. "To know that great players like that go through the same thing ... look, I didn't do something bad. I did something great."

His mother, Lulu, once told him that growing up around animals and nature had turned him into a kind, quiet, introspective human being. There was a homeless man on the side of a road in Wisconsin recently, and Jack stopped and gave him $10 and a cheeseburger. Jack used to work at a Cenex gas station and learned people skills by talking to the customers.

He will never score that many points again. "I know that," he says. He will probably never even come close. Though he has no perspective on the number, and on many other things that a 22-year-old has no perspective on, he is smart enough to be considering the number's implications. "Actually, I wasn't even focused on a number," he says. "I remember talking to my girlfriend—she rode down with my parents for the game. I was telling her that I was nervous, because I knew I would be getting a lot of shots, and if I was shooting like I had been lately, it was not going to be pretty."

Out in Ohio, inside the house with a big green wreath on the screen front door, the old man clears his throat and bends his back into a plush recliner near the porcelain angels his wife has placed on the TV stand. His eyes are a pale and watery blue.

"In some ways, I'm glad it happened to me, and some ways I wish it hadn't happened at all," he says, his voice creaking. "Ahh, it seems like a fairy tale. It was so long ago, and it.... Ahh, it still follows me everywhere." He didn't even score the points. But he was the mastermind behind them. His hands fidget on the armrests of the chair. He looks down, squints, raises his head halfway up again. "What was that?" he asks. He is 90 years old. His wife passes through the doorway, holding a cane. When he gave up the game in the late '50s, he made his money on a root beer stand called Newt Oliver's Frostop, a little place in Springfield, Ohio, with a giant plastic mug of root beer on the roof. The Frostop sold 25,000 gallons of root beer per season. It sold root beer floats for 25 cents and slaw for 25 cents and a Big Daddy Basket for 89 cents and grilled-cheese sandwiches for 35 cents, money that Newt invested in the stock market.

Newt's Rio Grande team, led by Bevo Francis, went 39--0 in 1952--53. The Redmen played military teams, tech schools and some four-year universities you've never heard of. Bevo averaged 50.1 points. No one could guard his turnaround jump shot. When other teams came to the Hog Pen, they would laugh at the condition of the gym—the leaking roof and the black tile floor, those folding chairs set up against the sides of the court—and "call us Podunk," Newt says. Bevo and his teammates would glower at the players from the other team, sizing them up, "and then we would beat their ass," the old man says. "Haw, haw, haw. Sometimes opposing coaches wouldn't even shake our hands afterward. I didn't care. Haw, haw, haw."

When asked to remember if he really wanted Bevo to get 100 points, Newt's eyes sparkle, and in an outburst he says, "Oh, yeah, we did! We knew if he got 100, we would receive national acclaim. And we would be on our way. And we certainly were. Oh, yeah, we knew we were going to beat those teams. Get him the ball, let him score, we're going to win anyway." Newt once called an AP writer and said, "I'll have him score 100 for you."

"I was never a grandstanding player," Bevo, a quiet man, a humble man, admitted in a documentary about the team called They Sure Could Play the Game. "I went out there to play the game and win. That made me feel I was free. Whenever I was out on the floor, I couldn't tell you if there was 10 people or 10,000 people."

Bevo scored 116 points against Ashland (Ky.) Junior College in January 1953, but that March the National Association of Basketball Coaches endorsed a new NCAA rule that accepted only scoring records from games between four-year colleges, and it applied the rule retroactively. So 116, and Bevo's 50.1 average and many of his other numbers, including 69 and 72 and 76, simply wouldn't count. "That made me so bitter," Bevo said. "I told Newt, 'Stiffen the schedule up.' "

And so Newt did. Rio played every one of its 28 games in 1953--54 on the road. It was a traveling show. The Redmen won 21 and probably would have won more had Bevo not sprained his ankle. They played at Madison Square Garden, where Bevo was so tired from having done interviews all day in New York City that he could hardly play. He broke the Butler Field House scoring record in Indianapolis as Rio Grande beat the Bulldogs, and the student section gave the Redmen a 10-minute standing ovation. They beat Miami and Wake Forest and Creighton, and lost by one to Villanova. Bevo kept scoring, and he got 113 against Hillsdale College in Jackson, Ohio, where people were trying to break the doors down to get in to see him. He hit 37 free throws. You can only wonder how many he'd score today. "One hundred fifty," says his former teammate Wayne Wiseman. But Bevo dropped out of school and played for a traveling team. Then he gave up basketball entirely.

Bevo declined to be interviewed for this story. When reached by phone, he asked, "Why did you wait 58 years?"

Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Warriors against the Knicks in 1962 in Hershey, Pa., and is still the only NBA player ever to do it. The number is synonymous with his name. He held up a piece of paper in the locker room after the game, while still draped in his white uniform, three digits written in marker, one of the enduring pictures in sport. Wilt was, of course, a man who was defined by other numbers as well. "As time goes by," he said, "I feel more and more a part of that 100-point game. It has become my handle, and I've come to realize just what I did."

The only man ever to get really close to Wilt's number was Kobe Bryant, the best player of the past 15 years. In 2006, against the Raptors in Los Angeles, he scored 81, hitting 28 of a mere 46 shots. That year he was playing perhaps the most artistic, and certainly high-scoring, basketball of his life. But 81? "Not even in my dreams," he said then. "It's something that just kind of happened. It's tough to explain. I don't know.... To sit here and say that I grasp what happened tonight, I'd be lying."

Besides being known as the best women's basketball player of all time, Cheryl Miller is known for scoring 105 points in a high school game in California in 1981. Lisa Leslie could have broken Miller's record in 1990 had the other team not voted to walk out and forfeit after she scored 101 points in an orchestrated half in another California high school game. Legend has it that former Villanova guard Corey Fisher scored more than 100 points in a summer league game in New York City in 2010, and in interviews he spoke about it like a man who had walked out of a dream, but there was no box score and no video. The number 100 has something about it, some kind of mystical weight. It always will, and someone else will always want to get it.

Jack Taylor drives five hours from Wisconsin to see his son play in Galesburg, Ill., at the end of November. It costs nothing to get in to see the game, and Jack sits three rows in back of the Grinnell bench. Two older women a couple of rows behind him are waving a small sign with the number 139 and an exclamation mark.

Four years ago, Little Jack dreamed of playing Division I basketball, so he went to Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy after he graduated from Black River Falls High, where he was named the Coulee Conference player of the year. He had his eyes set on playing for Columbia, and he had drawn interest. But he tore his left ACL early in that postgraduate season, and he went back to the farm, deeply depressed. He started reading the Bible more and became a dedicated Christian. His mother did some research with the help of her sister Darla in California and called the team doctor of the Packers, who performed surgery on Jack. While he was rehabbing his leg he enrolled at Wisconsin--La Crosse. He and his father worked on an old car, a 1967 Mustang that Jack's dad had bought him on eBay. They stripped the paint and replaced the back quarter panels, replaced the engine and the rusted fenders, and painted the car a color called Raven Black. After two years at La Crosse, Jack didn't feel it was the right fit, and he transferred to Grinnell.

Jack's parents met at a Chuck E. Cheese's in San Diego. His dad works a bulldozer during the summers, making roads up near Milwaukee. He has a big, thick mustache. On this night in November he watches Little Jack on the court, going through warmup routines. During the game the elder Jack claps, twice. He is not a man of many words, and mostly he just stares ahead at the court as his son finishes with 18 points. "Yeah, Jack and his sister once showed calves at the Jackson County Fair, and both won first place," their father says. And, "One time I showed him how to butcher a cow." When Little Jack was in grade school, his father made him memorize the periodic table. His father once told him he honestly didn't think he would turn out to be that great a basketball player, because he figured the boy would move on to something else. The elder Jack knew nothing about basketball, though. After the 138-point game, he and Lulu made the long drive back to Wisconsin, through the night, and they were getting so many calls and texts that the phone died and they had to stop at 4 a.m. to buy a charger. When they got home they unplugged their landline.

There actually was some magic on the night Jack Taylor scored 138 points, but it took a long time for it to happen. It came near the end of a game that felt sloppier and slower than usual for Grinnell. After the Pioneers had essentially stopped playing defense, after Jack had long passed 100, after Faith Baptist's David Larson had started to put up ridiculous numbers himself, getting cheers from the Grinnell crowd on open layups on his way to 70, Jack hit a three-pointer to give him 118, and then he hit another to give him 121. Two in a row.

He had started to feed off the energy in the small gym during the second half, the palpable buzz; fans had their phones out, filming him, and at various points they chanted his name. People asked him how tired his arms were afterward, but they really weren't; it was his legs that were crumpling beneath him. They were so cramped that he just sat down at halftime and didn't participate in the layup line. During timeouts he put a towel in his hands and held it over his face and faded away. He couldn't even hear a word his coach was saying.

Jack got 124 and 127 on two long threes, his third and fourth in a row, and one of the Grinnell announcers shouted, "This is madness!" Something was really starting to happen, and it had nothing to do with gimmickry. Jack Taylor was in the zone. He had been in the zone in a gym by himself before, but never so much in a game. He hit his fifth and sixth threes in a row, NBA threes, 130 and 133 points.

"I was going to take him out," Dave Arsenault says. "Then he hit a three. And I thought, Let's see how this goes. He hits another three. I'm not going to take him out. By the end of this 2½-minute stretch he bagged all those threes in a row. Players are circling our bench and [there's] mass chaos in the gym. Just to see someone hit threes on seven straight possessions? We're not going to see that again."

Griffin Lentsch, who last year scored 89 for Grinnell, then the Division III record, was waiting on the bench for the whistle that wouldn't come so he could go in and replace Jack. As the threes fell, Griffin began to jump around like a child, he was so excited, and when he got put in with 1:33 left, he ran out and hugged his teammate.

Jack got a burst of energy every time he touched the ball. No matter what the defenders did, they just weren't there. Faith Baptist was double- and triple-teaming him. He was calm. He was apart from himself, and the numbers. But he knew what he wanted. He wanted to score. Everything felt very slow, and he began not to worry about making or missing. He just wanted to shoot, and deal with the numbers later.

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Selvy knew the last shot was going in. "Oh, it was meant to be," he says.
Selvy's younger brothers played with the 100-point game ball until it fell apart.
"In some ways I wish it hadn't happened at all," Oliver says. "Ahh, it still follows me everywhere."
The number 100 has some kind of mystical weight.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

3-POINTERS TOTAL MISSED: 44

3-POINTERS TOTAL MADE: 27

LAYUPS TOTAL MISSED: 3

LAYUPS TOTAL MADE: 18

FREE THROWS TOTAL MADE: 7

FREE THROWS TOTAL MISSED: 3

2-POINT JUMPERS TOTAL MISSED: 9

2-POINT JUMPERS TOTAL MADE: 7

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PHOTOPhotograph by TODD ROSENBERGBLIZZARD OF POINTS Taylor, at the family farm in Wisconsin, worked tirelessly as a teenager to refine the game that surpassed the NCAA scoring record by 25 points and Chamberlain's century (inset) by 38.PHOTOPAUL VATHIS/AP[See caption above]ILLUSTRATIONILLUSTRATION BY NICOLE ZIGMONTPHOTOCORY HALL/USA TODAY SPORTSHIT AND MISS Although he set a mark that may never be broken, Taylor didn't really get hot until late in the game, when he made seven treys in a row.PHOTOSTEVEN BRANSCOMBE/ZUMAPRESS.COM (SI.COM)PHOTOCOURTESY OF FURMAN UNIVERSITYHELL-BENT Selvy (28) was apologetic about his 100-point performance against Newberry in 1954, but during the game, with his mother watching, he badly wanted to hit the number.PHOTOJOSEPH SCHERSCHEL/TIME LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGESDOUBLE THREAT Francis (shooting), the most famous college player of the early 1950s, was not only a great scorer but also a prolific rebounder.