Night Court: Nate Wolters gives CBB most points in a game since '09

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Just your latest reminder that college basketball is a ridiculous sport, the best sport for drama on a nightly basis. That's Larry Drew bailing out UCLA against Washington. Every night we can realistically expect at least one -- but more like three or four -- outcomes that make us perk up and pay attention. College hoops is on a ridiculous roll right now.

Game of the Night: Illinois gets Indiana when it's not looking.

Between them, Indiana and Gonzaga's total seeds will not add up to higher than five. And because of that, Illinois is going to get into the NCAA tournament. The Illini haven't been consistent, but they've got some really nice wins. It was the third time the Illini have knocked off a top team in the polls and did thanks to D.J. Richardson's 23 points and three steals. I could go on, but Borzello wrote longer on this game already, and I need to address something else immediately.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Nate Wolters puts up the most points in a college basketball game since 2009.

Who says college hoops has a scoring problem? South Dakota State star senior Nate Wolters put up a career-best 53 points on Thursday night -- on the road -- against IPFW. Wolters' performance was the most points for a player in a non-overtime college hoops game since Kentucky's Jodie Meeks scored 54 on Jan. 13, 2009. (Will there be shirts made for this one?)

The best part: SDSU needed all of his buckets. It barely edged out the Mastodons 80-74.

"I'm not happy, I'll be honest with you," Jackrabbits coach Scott Nagy said from the team bus afterward. He was agitated the team didn't show up and Nate carried the load, adding he'd never, ever seen a player so clearly carry his team to victory the way that Wolters did.

"We don't want to make a circus out of this," Nagy added. I talked with him as the team made its way by bus up to Oakland, where SDSU will play Saturday and has never won.

(Side note: I had a nice story on this whole deal, then it disappeared in an instant because computers are controlled by the devil, and so now I am sad and writing the shortened version here. My tears stain my keyboard. With that in mind, I can't recall exact quotes, but I can give you the gist of my conversations with Wolters and Nagy.)

Wolters said it was the most that he has ever scored -- ever. Organized game or not. He officially had 39 in high school, and his college high before Thursday night was 36. He said he knew what he had for most of the night because the scoreboard at IPFW's arena was pretty prominent.

SDSU ran a lot of ISO pick-and-roll action, and Wolters said he had no issue at all doing what he wanted, adding he felt the need to win this on his own because IPFW was so physical and unafraid on offense.

When the game was over, Wolters said he returned to his phone receiving more texts and missed calls than he'd ever gotten before -- including when the team made the NCAAs last year. He added that the arena was a tough environment because it was so empty. Nagy said he didn't think 500 people were in the place.

The 53 points is a school record and the most in a game for a Jackrabbit since 1980. Wolters had 15 at half and wound up with a school record of nine 3s in a game. His eighth 3 finally put SDSU ahead with 1:47 to go. Nagy said that in the final timeout huddle of the game, he and Wolters exchanged looks, "Like, you gotta be kidding me."

Nagy added that, if anyone had to put up 53, he'd want it to be Wolters because the kid won't let it go to his head. He didn't set out to score that many; it just happened. The irony is, normally he slowly fills up a stat sheet, but Thursday night it was clear something special was happening.

The next big mark is the school's career assists record, which should come in the Oakland game. Wolters is four away.

That's a good win: Duke separates itself further from NC State.

The Blue Devils won 98-85, improving to 7-2 in the ACC and getting State to a .500 record in the conference. Mason Plumlee was great; more on him below. Duke nailed 10 3s, all in the first half, and NC State threatened late before Duke pulled away in the final two minutes.

This, via Shane Ryan, is what people are discussing, though. You can discern a few Duke fans chanting either "past your bedtime" or "how's your grandma" to Tyler Lewis. Thing is, Lewis' grandma recently died. The bedtime jab doesn't make a lot of sense; he doesn't look that young. I'm inclined to believe the worse of the two chants. Judge for yourself.

But that's a bad loss: Mizzou to Texas A&M

No good, Tigers, no good. The road woes are now putting you close to the bubble, if only the bubble wasn't so accommodating. The Aggies' Fabyon Harris nailed a trey with 12 seconds to go to lift Billy Kennedy's team over Frank Haith's. I don't expect good things the rest of the way from A&M, but the team could be a fun little spoiler for others.

Phil Pressey is now officially an inconsistent problem, too. Sometimes he makes it look so pretty, but a lot of times his turnovers -- seven on Thursday night -- stall the Tigers' momentum. If you watched, Mizzou didn't look or play like it deserved to win. And it didn't.

Players with impact

Nate Wolters beyond all others.

Mason Plumlee had 30 in Duke's win, and kinda quietly the big man has remained at or near the top of POY consideration.

We've got the eight block/steal rule here. You get that many of either, you get a mention. Props to Denver's Chase Hallam, who swiped eight against Seattle.

Numbers to figure:

  1. 0-5: Missouri's in trouble in general because that's its road record this season.
  2. Five: For five straight weeks, the No. 1 team in the AP Poll has lost. This can happen for the rest of the season for all I care.
  3. Eight: The number of games that needed overtime on Thursday night.
  4. 20: Oregon's 20-game home winning streak ended with a 48-47 loss to Colorado. Wuh? Pac-12, you so Pac-12. Really, this is just college basketball. The results seem increasingly random and without scientific precedent.

Other outcomes of note:

  • My jinx remains in full effect. After I wrote big on them last week, Belmont loses at Murray State in a fun one, 79-74, drops its first OVC game of the year in the process, and now that league has a really interesting dynamic playing out. Probably going to be one bid, and I hope these teams face in the league title game.
  • Arizona State won at home over Cal 66-62 to improve to 18-5 overall and 7-3 in the conference. Sun Devils will dance this year, and Herb Sendek's job will be saved.
  • Maryland went on the road and won at Virginia Tech 60-55. Good road win. Terps are 17-6 and a .500 ACC team again.
  • In its first game without Blaine Taylor, Old Dominion goes on the road and beats Drexel 78-66. Hmm.

Notebook:

-- More Norlander jinx at play. After profiling Matthew Dellavedova, his team didn't lose, but he didn't make a field goal in SMC's 84-63 win at Santa Clara.

-- Congratulations to UNC women's coach Sylvia Hatchell, who became the third women's coach to reach 900 wins after the Heels won on Thursday night. (Pat Summitt and Jody Conradt are the other two.)

-- This, via Northwestern State Athletics, is nuts. In the team's 85-73 win over Oral Roberts, it forced 28 turnovers, 21 of them steals.

-- Marist beat Iona 105-104 thanks to this prayer of a shot that went in to send the game to double OT. As The Beatles once penned, it's all too much.

-- BYU's at-large chances are officially kapoof with a 74-68 loss to San Diego.

-- Amid all the nuttiness from Thursday night, the Horizon League probably had the wildest collective night of any conference.


For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

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