Austin Carr isn’t the most well-known name in NCAA Division I college basketball history, but he was a walking bucket over his four years at Notre Dame.

In three years with the Fighting Irish, he averaged 34.6 points, including a career-high 38.1 per game in the 1969-70 season.

Then with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was third in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting after averaging 21.2 points in the 1971-72 season and an All-Star in the 1973-74 campaign.

We had to give just a little bit of background on the 6-foot-4 shooting guard who holds five of the top 12 spots on the list of the greatest scoring performances in NCAA Tournament history.

Carr’s dominance in the NCAAs helped keep UCLA center Bill Walton’s championship game-record 44 points against Memphis in 1973 off the rankings list below for the highest-scoring games in what is now commonly called March Madness.

most points in a semifinal or title game

1.    61, Austin Carr, Notre Dame vs. Ohio (March 7, 1970)

In the first round of the 1970 men’s basketball tournament, Carr exploded for the single-game record on 25-of-44 shooting. Remember, this was before the implementation of the 3-point line, so Carr scored 50 on field goals alone. He added 11 points from 14 free-throw attempts, helping push the Fighting Irish past the Bobcats 112-82. Carr averaged 52.7 points over three tournament games (also an NCAA record), but Notre Dame lost to Kentucky in the regional semifinals.

2.    58, Bill Bradley, Princeton vs. Wichita St. (March 20, 1965)

Perhaps angry or motivated after Princeton’s loss in the Final Four, Bradley took out his frustration on Wichita State in the third-place game. Without a 3-point line or a shot clock, Bradley poured in a Princeton-record 58 points in a 118-82 victory. Bradley, who had averaged a conference-best 28.8 points in Ivy League games, earned Most Outstanding Player honors.  

3.    56, Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati vs. Arkansas (March 15, 1958)

Over his college career, “the Big O” averaged 33.8 points, 15.2 rebounds and 7.1 assists despite standing at just 6-foot-5. But in one of his best March Madness games, Robertson nearly outscored Arkansas by himself while setting the Allen Fieldhouse (Kansas) scoring record. He finished with 56 points on 21-of-36 shooting and went 14 of 16 from the foul line in a 97-62 win over the Razorbacks in the 1958 NCAA Tournament third-place game. Remarkably, Cincinnati didn’t win a national championship over Robertson’s three-year run.

T-4. 52, Austin Carr, Notre Dame vs. Kentucky (March 12, 1970)/ Austin Carr, Notre Dame vs. TCU (March 13, 1971)

Not much more that we can say about the man who set the standard for making March Madness history. But it was less than a week after putting up an NCAA Tournament-record 61 points against the Bobcats that Carr went for 52 in a loss to Kentucky in the second round. He then blitzed TCU for another 52 a year later.

The Best of the Rest

  • 6. 50, David Robinson, Navy vs. Michigan (March 12, 1987)
  • 7. 49, Elvin Hayes, Houston vs. Loyola Chicago (March 9, 1968)
  • 8. 48, Hal Lear, Temple vs. SMU (March 23, 1956)
  • 9. 47, Austin Carr, Notre Dame vs. Houston (March 20, 1971)
  • 10. 46, Dave Corzine, DePaul vs. Louisville, 2 OT (March 17, 1978)
  • T-11. 45, Bob Houbregs, Washington vs. Seattle (March 13, 1953)
  • T-11. 45, Austin Carr, Notre Dame vs. Iowa (March 14, 1970)
  • T-11. 45, Bo Kimble, Loyola Marymount (CA) vs. New Mexico State (March 16, 1990)

1. 149, Loyola Marymount vs. Michigan (March 18, 1990)

The Lions dropped 149 points on the Wolverines in what is also the highest scoring game in NCAA Tournament history (264 total points). LMU led 65-58 after the first half, which is not an uncommon final score to see in a college game. The Lions then outscored Michigan 84-57 in the second half. In addition to Jeff Fryer’s 41 points, Bo Kimble scored 37, Terrell Lowery had 23 and Per Stumer added 21. Loyola Marymount’s Cinderella story would continue until the Elite Eight, where the Lions lost to top-seeded UNLV 131-101.

The Best of the Rest

  • 2. 131, UNLV vs. LMU (CA) (March 25, 1990)
  • 3. 127, *Saint Joseph’s vs. Utah, 4 OT (March 25, 1961)
  • 4. 124, Oklahoma vs. Louisiana Tech (March 18, 1989)
  • 5. 123, North Carolina vs. LMU (CA) (March 19, 1988)
  • T-6. 121, Iowa vs. Notre Dame (March 14, 1970)
  • T-6. 121, UNLV vs. San Francisco (March 12, 1977)
  • T-6. 121, Tennessee vs. Long Beach St. (March 16, 2007)
  • T-6. 120, Utah vs. Saint Joseph’s, 4 OT (March 25, 1961)
  • T-6. 120, Arkansas vs. LMU (CA) (March 16, 1989)

(*Team had wins vacated due to NCAA violations)

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