The worst college basketball game was so historically awful, a ranked team scored just 24 points
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The worst college basketball game was so historically awful, a ranked team scored just 24 points

Seeing a sport played expertly by players
in their physical peak can be a thing of beauty; an ideal representation of the game as it
was meant to be. Nowhere is that more true than college basketball. But sometimes, a game can be played so badly,
so fundamentally rotten at its core, it makes you wonder why anybody attempts to play it
at all. One such game happened in 2019 — the type
of game so stupefyingly bad, so antithetical to the very Platonic ideal of basketball itself,
that everyone who witnessed it instantly knew they had just watched… The Worst College Basketball Game. February 2nd, 2019. Raleigh, North Carolina. The 12th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies have
traveled to North Carolina to take on the 23rd-ranked Wolfpack. NC State comes into this game 16-5, but they’re
still looking for a marquee win to stay on track and prove they deserve to make it into
the tournament. Just last week, they took third-ranked Virginia
the distance, losing by just 1 in overtime. Three days before that, Wolfpack guard Braxton
Beverly dusted off Clemson with a 3PT buzzer beater. They’ve got talent, and the chance here
to make a statement. Virginia Tech is 17-3 and also looking to
keep up their momentum heading into February. The Hokies are good on offense, but they’re
coming into the game without their star guard Justin Robinson, who suffered a toe injury
against Miami in the game prior, and an otherwise thin bench. It’ll be a challenge, but a road win here
for Tech would be huge. So, this is a big game for both teams who
are jockeying for position in a competitive ACC. Also, these teams are first and 3rd in the
ACC in shooting, which is worth mentioning, especially in a conference dominated by powerhouse
programs like Duke, UVA, and UNC. The game starts, and the Hokies kick things
off with a jumper from Kerry Blackshear. The Wolfpack respond with one in kind from
CJ Bryce. Viewer, congratulations. You’ve just witnessed the only points that
either of these teams will make in the first 7 minutes of this game. Though you are about to see it with your own
eyes, it’s impossible to account for why these teams just cannot put the ball into
the hoop. Except, maybe they were jinxed by Evan Lepler
and Brian Oliver, who tell us 3 minutes into the game, “both of these teams are tops
in the league in scoring, and you’re going to see a frenetic pace of going back and forth…” And oh, how those teams go back and forth. What exactly happens over the following 5
minutes of game time? Only this:
Foul and a turnover. Miss. Turnover. Miss. Turnover. Miss, foul, miss. Miss. Turnover, on this absolutely hilarious out-of-bounds
pass from Markell Johnson “Goodness gracious! Someone was open but he was in the third row.” Turnover. Miss. Miss, offensive rebound, foul on NC state,
turnover. Miss Turnover And that, by the way, is VT’s seventh turnover
of the game so far. There is, if nothing else, some defense. Now, before we finally get to the next points
of this game, I want you to take a look at NC State’s last possession before that happens. We’ve got: a missed three point jumper by
Braxton Beverly, Wyatt Walker with the offensive rebound, back to Beverly for a missed jumper,
then a missed tip and a missed put-back attempt by Walker. Phew! “Four chances, none of them convert.” That sound you hear from the crowd after all
this is the same exact sound you hear from an audience dealing with a frustrating contestant
on the Price is Right. “Joy, Joy. Help her audience, she needs help.”
[indistinct audience yelling] We’re almost at the much-hyped debut of
a second made shot by either of these teams. But first, I just want to quickly point out
the stat line graphic that the broadcast puts up right before it happens. That is crazy. Here, finally, with 12:54 left in the half,
the Hokie’s Isaiah Wilkins nails a 3-pointer, and the home crowd cheers simply because they
finally saw a basketball thing happen. At this point, the analysts would like to
remind you AGAIN that these are: “two of the better field goal shooting teams
– ranked 1st and 3rd – in the conference,” almost as if to apologize and swear that this
doesn’t usually happen. And once again, this comment gives our boys
some performance anxiety and nobody scores for nearly another 4 minutes. Somewhere in there, the broadcast gives us
this wonderful tableau of the terminally bored NCSU band. I’m going to pause this here so you can
pick out your favorite — this one’s mine because I know how much it sucks to wear your
best hat out on the town for nothing. Later, with 7:30 left in the half, a Hokies
3-point jumper brings the game to 13-6, and the Wolfpack respond with another brutal possession
consisting of 5 shots, and 5 misses. “Can the Wolfpack pay it off? They cannot.” A few more feeble attempts at scoring are
punctuated by some actual buckets, but eventually both teams limp into halftime with a combined
34 points, a score of 20-14 — the fewest combined points in a half that PNC Arena has
ever seen. But yes, despite NC State’s abysmal shooting
performance, they’ve managed to keep it within 6. On to the second half, where NC State quickly
treats us to yet another impotent possession with multiple shots that result in nothing,
including yet another miss from Braxton Beverly, who is scoreless so far today. “Sooner or later we’re gonna realize that
Beverly’s gonna start knocking down those shots, you’re playing with fire if you’re
Virginia Tech, leaving him open.” “He’s such a good shooter, you have to
imagine it’s gonna break through.” That assumption is… incorrect. At one point, the broadcast, in a moment of
relative quiet, picks up a frustrated fan who acutely expresses what we’re all thinking:
“It’s called basketball! Let’s play it!” Friend, this is not basketball. This is something darker. More sinister. That brings us to 6:50 left in the game, and
I want you to really take in this Torin Dorn lay-up, as it will be NC State’s last field
goal of the game. They’ll score two more points on free throws
before the game is up, but I think it’s kind of neat that they managed to bookend
this game — 11 minutes at the beginning and 7 at the end for a total 18 minutes — with
only a single made shot. And that’s kind of it. The analysts wonder aloud:
“Could this be the lowest scoring game in Woflpack history?” It’s close. The band gallantly sticks around to play one
final dirge for a mostly empty arena, and this game, such as it is, is over. The final score? 47 to 24. Forty-seven…to twenty-four. Yes, that is a real basketball score. Here are a few things that are true: the Wolfpack
went 9-for-54 in this game, a shooting percentage of 16.7. That is the lowest percentage in the history
of the ACC, which was formed in 1953. You’d think they would make some adjustments
at halftime, but in fact, the Wolfpack shot .194 in the first half, then dropped to .130
after halftime. Braxton Beverly went 0-12 from the field and
0-9 from behind the arc, a big fat goose-egg of a game for him. It’s the lowest scoring game NC State has
had in a regular season game since Dwight D Eisenhower was president. It was the lowest scoring game of any ranked
Division 1 school since the shot clock was established in 1985. But a question remains: is this truly the
worst college basketball game of all time? There are thousands of NCAA games that get
played every year, and basketball has been played at colleges for the better part of
a century. Surely there are other contenders. Take for instance the 2011 NCAA Championship
between Butler and UConn, which ended with the fewest combined points in a championship
game since 1949. Or perhaps a 2013 game between Northern Illinois
and Eastern Michigan, which — well, you know what, I’ll let eyewitness Jon Bois tell
you about that one. Jon? 2013, Northern Illinois vs. Eastern Michigan,
there are three things I want to tell you about this game. The first is that Northern Illinois scored
four points in the entire first half. The second is they went 1-33 from the three-point
range and only hit their one with two minutes left in the game. The third, my personal favorite, one of those
threes was an airball. A Northern Illinois player was supposed to
rebound it – he was underneath the net – he watches it come down, instead of putting his
hands up, he puts them down slack at his sides, he watches as the ball hit him in the chest
and bounces out of bounds. Greatest game ever. Total stinkers to be sure, but there’s something
to be said for a game in which the play-by-play guys turn on these kids early and often:
“I swear to god…” “This is really bizarre…” “Two teams that can really score. Believe us, please.” “We’d understand if you’d like to avert
your eyes.” Indeed. But like any good train wreck, sometimes it
can just be impossible to tear yourself away. So, the next time you fail miserably at the
most basic task expected of you, just remember that one time, and not very long ago, an entire
college basketball program was incapable of accomplishing even the most basic element
of the game: putting the ball in the basket. And you know what? Life goes on. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe to SB Nation and
if you want to see more about that awful 2011 UConn-Butler championship game, we’ve got
it here. Or you can check out another one of our SB
Nation videos.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “The worst college basketball game was so historically awful, a ranked team scored just 24 points

  1. You’ve seen football games with basketball scores, but what about a basketball game with a football score

  2. UVA was just listed with Duke as a "powerhouse" in basketball. As a Charlottesville native and resident, I find that extremely amusing 😀 They've been pretty good for a few years, but they have yet to demonstrate the staying power of programs like Duke or Kentucky, who are at the top for decades at a time.

    If you want to talk about UVA being a powerhouse, look at their soccer program: 7 men's national titles since 1989, a record of (332, 129, 59) under their current coach, and they have gone to the NCAA tournament every year for over 30 years. For several weeks this season, both the men's and women's teams were #1 in the country at the same time. But sure, their basketball team is a "powerhouse." lol

  3. Duke vs NC State in 1967. Score 12-10 while State just stood around and held the ball. First basketball game I ever attended as a freshman in 1965 is still on the books. No three pointers but final score Duke 136 and UVA 72.

  4. Dec. 20, 1983 Kentucky 24 – Cincinnati 11. MUCH worse. At least the guys in your game were trying to score. Cincinnati decided UK was much too powerful so they stalled the ball the entire game. It was 11-7 at halftime. UC scored FOUR second half points. It was a disgrace and a total rip off of the fans who paid to see basketball, not keep away. This game caused the NCAA to adopt the shot clock. UK was averaging 71 ppg before that. But because UC only lost by 13 their tactics were copied by other low talent teams. And the whole season was mired by repeated attempts to hold the ball the entire game.
    Being bad by accident is one thing. Doing it deliberately- it sucks. Cincinnati sucks for doing it.
    I will go to my grave despising what UC did that night I refer to it not so affectionately as the "chicken ball game".


  6. If I'm not mistaken it was mostly because of NC State that the shot clock was created. They discovered that they could beat ranked opponents by holding possession of the ball for minutes at a time.

  7. If Chick Hearn was calling this one, he would say that "today, none of the teams in the court could beat the sisters of mercy"

  8. Cincinnati and Kentucky had an even worse game during the "four corners" days, December 20, 1983. Kentucky won comfortably, 24-11, but it was like a root canal because of the extreme stall ball. The Wildcats refused to play there again for many years because it showed bad faith on the part of UC, in their eyes.

  9. Thinking other way around: Low-scoring game means both team defended with great attitude. Defense wins championships.

  10. As a hokie that went to high school in Raleigh, this video kills me every time.

    It's even funnier when I send it to my NS State friends

  11. 47-24

    Rugby: “Eh, this is kind of an average score.”
    Football: “Wow this was a pretty offensive game; lots of scoring.”
    Basketball: “47-24?! What kind of bore fest is this?”

  12. I’m a diehard NC State fan that went to UNCW…a contender for the title of “worst game college basketball game ever” should be the 2001 CAA Championship Game…UNCW vs. George Mason. It had a lower combined point total, with a conference championship and an NCAA automatic bid on the line.

  13. I guess this is worse than the Four Corner Stall because these teams were actually trying to score? I still think I would rather watch this.

  14. What I heard at the end is “Remember, if you’re a screw up, NCSU is a worse screw up.”

    After UNC clobbered them in a monster second-half at Carter-Finley this year in football, I see what you mean.

    I’ll tell you to remember this: Tar Holes, Go Pack! It’s not like they wanted to go to a bowl game or the NCAA championship anyway.

    Note: I’m talking trash with little ill will intended. If you’re from NCSU, feel free to roast UNC in the replies if it makes you feel better.

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