Defense went out the window when Troy State and DeVry Institute engaged in the highest-scoring game in NCAA history. Fifty-one three-pointers by one team are just part of one of the most unforgettable games in the history of the sport.
The scoreboard — like the officials — couldn’t keep up as the Troy State and DeVry Institute men’s basketball teams waged an offensive onslaught for the ages.
When Mike Murphy, Paul Andrzejewski and Bill Gaulden left the floor in Troy, Ala., on Jan. 12, 1992, an incorrect final score twinkled in lights above them: 141-58. The host Trojans had actually poured in 258 points, not 58, a total so astronomical the scoreboard malfunctioned. Once the 200 barrier was breached, its hundreds’ column went dark.
Troy State wound up with a 258-141 victory, the teams demolished 13 NCAA records and sports fans across the land were left stunned — or in a state of utter disbelief — by the veritable orgy of offense. James Naismith, who invented the game a century before, would have been excused had he not recognized the contest played at warp speed by Division II Troy State and DeVry, an NAIA school from Atlanta.
“It’s ironic this happened in the 100th year of basketball,” said Trojans Coach Don Maestri. “I don’t think Dr. Naismith ever expected to see the ball go through the peach basket this often.”
Maestri’s team shattered its own NCAA all-divisions record for points in a half by scoring 123 in the opening 20 minutes. The new mark didn’t even last an hour. Troy State continued its relentless assault after the break and piled up 135 more.
The Trojans’ frenetic pace invariably tested opponents’ lung power and resolve. Troy State averaged 121.1 points per game — still the NCAA Division II standard — and topped the century mark 23 times during that 23-6 season by embracing what Michael Jaffe of Sports Illustrated called a “style of basketball that looks like it’s played on a hot plate.” And against the Hoyas, the hot plate was sizzling.
“DeVry would shoot, Troy would get the rebound, the outlet pass would be to halfcourt, the second pass would be to the three-point line and in a split second a shot would be up,” recalls Murphy, a referee for 30 seasons, Gaulden’s successor as the supervisor of basketball officials for the Gulf South Conference and now the public information director of the Alabama State Senate. “Pretty much all we did was run up and down the floor and try to keep up, which was totally impossible. There were times I’d come off the baseline and I wouldn’t make it to the free-throw line before the ball was already up in the air at the other end.”
The teams’ combined total of 399 points eclipsed the NCAA record set three years before when Division I Loyola Marymount thrashed U.S. International, 181-150, fitting in that Maestri patterned his high-octane offense after that utilized by Loyola Coach Paul Westhead. DeVry wasn’t shy about stepping on the gas, either. The result was a perfect storm of offense: The teams scored a point every six seconds on average.
“Troy State had set the record the year before against DeVry [187-117], so we knew there were going to be a lot of points,” says Gaulden, who closed out his 30-year career as a college official that day at Sartain Hall. “But we never figured they were going to score that many. They were just pumping shots up from outside and dropping them through.”
Especially Troy State. The Trojans attempted a record 109 three-pointers and made 51, obliterating the NCAA standard of 25 they had shared with two other schools. Troy State players fired up threes even when teammates were open underneath the basket. But no one could fault that unorthodox strategy: The Trojans buried 46.8 percent of their attempts from behind the arc.
“To me the most amazing statistic out of that game is that Troy made 51 three-pointers,” Murphy says. “That’s not how many they shot — that’s how many they made. To make 51 three-pointers in 40 minutes, it’s just incredible.”
Reserve guard Brian Simpson spearheaded the Trojans’ long-range barrage with 11 threes and finished with 37 points in only 15 minutes of playing time. DeVry’s Dartez Daniel led all scorers with 42, and Terry McCord paced the Troy State with 41. In all, 15 players reached double figures.
Their collective effort produced a mind-boggling final score that invited disbelief. In fact, some in the media questioned the result that was reported by Troy State’s sports information staff.
“We left Troy and I got home about two and a half hours later,” recalls Andrzejewski, now retired after 25 years as a basketball official. “One of my sons said, ‘Dad, there’s a gentleman who keeps calling you from Denver.’ I had no clue who — I didn’t know anybody in Denver. Well, this gentleman was from The Associated Press, and my name was in the story. Somehow they got my telephone number. When he called back, he asked me, ‘Was this a real game?’”
Earlier that afternoon, Andrzejewski and his colleagues wondered if there would even be a game. Tip-off was fast approaching and Coach George Trawick’s Hoyas were nowhere in sight.
“I was concerned,” Andrzejewski says. “Usually a school’s there a couple hours prior. It was a 3 o’clock game on a Sunday afternoon, and it was like quarter to three and no team from DeVry. Finally they walk in and I said to their coach, ‘We’ve got 10 minutes to get ready.’ He said, ‘We don’t need that long.’ We started at straight-up 3 o’clock.”
And the fireworks began. It wasn’t long before the officials realized the points were coming in such a torrent that NCAA records were in jeopardy.
“Troy, they were at like 90-something points and there were still eight minutes to go in the half,” Murphy recalls. “I’m going, good God, how many points we gonna score? At halftime it was 123-53. You have 120-something at half, you’ve got to figure we’re gonna hit 200 easy.”
Which the Trojans did, on Steve Hunt’s three-pointer with 7:57 remaining. Players abandoned all pretense of contesting shots in favor of launching them. With defensive challenges at a minimum, the officials called only seven fouls.
“The game was moving so fast it was really hard for anyone to foul even if they wanted to,” Murphy says. “Defenders weren’t getting close enough to anybody to foul.”
That made it an easy game for the officials to work. After the opening tip, they essentially got out of the way and let the players run the floor.
“The game had kind of a flow, which made it fun to officiate,” Gaulden says. “The teams set the tempo and we just let ’em play. We never got winded, and after the game we weren’t really that tired. It wasn’t that hard at all.”
Troy State’s point total left more than a few fans discombobulated, too. Many dismissed the 258-141 final as pure fiction. Andrzejewski, Murphy and Gaulden encounter skeptics to this day.
“Some people still don’t believe it,” Andrzejewski says. “Some folks will say, ‘Nah, you’re crazy, that didn’t happen.’ But it did happen, it really did. And I’ve got the box score to prove it.”
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