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Fresno State's Alexander fails to break scoring champ jinx

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Posted: Tuesday March 21, 2000 03:40 AM

  Courtney Alexander Courtney Alexander hopes to keep his scoring touch when Fresno State faces Wisconsin. Todd Warshaw/Allsport

By Ryan Hunt,

In the NCAA tournament, one player with a hot hand can take a team a long way. Just look at Kansas' Danny Manning in 1988 or Michigan's Glen Rice in 1989.

But the guys who have had the hot hand all season long are a different story.

For only the 13th time, the nation's leading scorer will play in the NCAA tournament. Fresno State's Courtney Alexander topped the NCAA averaging 25.3 points per game.

But only once has a player been the NCAA's scoring champion and been on the NCAA championship team -- Kansas' Clyde Lovellette, who averaged 28.4 points a game in 1952.

Scoring Machines
Nation's leading scorers in NCAA tournament
Player  Team  Yr  Year
Courtney Alexander  Fresno State  2000  25.3  11.0 
Charles Jones  Long Island  1997  30.1  37.0 
Glenn Robinson  Purdue  1994  30.3  30.2 
Bo Kimble  Loyola Mmt.  1990  35.3  35.8 
Hank Gathers  Loyola Mmt.  1989  32.7  28.0 
Hersey Hawkins  Bradley  1988  36.3  44.0 
Xavier McDaniel  Wichita St.  1985  27.2  22.0 
Dwight Lamar  SW La.  1972  36.3  33.3 
Oscar Robertson  Cincinnati  1960  33.7  30.5 
Oscar Robertson  Cincinnati  1959  32.6  29.0 
Oscar Robertson  Cincinnati  1958  35.1  43.0 
Clyde Lovellette  Kansas  1952  28.4  35.3 
Tony Lavelli  Yale  1949  22.4  NA 

And since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, five of the seven scoring champions couldn't carry their teams past the tournament's opening round. Alexander's Bulldogs were ousted by Wisconsin.

The exceptions: Glenn Robinson led Purdue to the Elite Eight in 1994, while Bo Kimble and Loyola Marymount advanced to the Elite Eight in 1990 in the days after Hank Gathers' death. Gathers led the nation in scoring in 1989.

Individually, most of the scorers have gotten their points in the NCAA tournament. Only two have dramatic decreases (an average of more than four points a game fewer) in postseason production, while five actually averaged more points in the tournament.

Some have put up big single-game performances, as well.

Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson, who led the nation in scoring three years in a row, scored 56 against Arkansas in 1958. Kimble scored 45 in the Lions' opening round win over New Mexico State in 1990. Three others scored 44 in a game (Bradley's Hersey Hawkins, Robinson and Lovellette).

Filling It Up
Top single-game tournament scoring performances
Pts  Player  Team  Year 
61  Austin Carr  Notre Dame  1970 
58  Bill Bradley  Princeton  1965 
56  OSCAR ROBERTSON  Cincinnati  1958 
52  Austin Carr  Notre Dame  1970 
52  Austin Carr  Notre Dame  1971 
50  David Robinson  Navy  1987 
49  Elvin Hayes  Houston  1968 
48  Hal Lear  Temple  1956 
47  Austin Carr  Notre Dame  1971 
46  Dave Corzine  DePaul  1978 
45  Bob Houbregs  Washington  1953 
45  Austin Carr  Notre Dame  1970 
45  BO KIMBLE  Loyola Mmt.  1990 
44  CLYDE LOVELLETTE  Kansas  1952 
44  Rod Thorn  West Virginia  1963 
44  Dan Issel  Kentucky  1970 
44  Bill Walton  UCLA  1973 
44  HERSEY HAWKINS  Bradley  1988 
44  Travis Mays  Texas  1990 
44  GLENN ROBINSON  Purdue  1994 
CAPS=Led nation in scoring

Those represent five of the top 20 single-game scoring performances in NCAA tournament history.

But Alexander, who averaged the fourth fewest points of any NCAA scoring champion all-time, failed to match any of those feats.

Wisconsin, which was fourth in the nation in scoring defense (55.8 points per game), held Alexander 14 points below his average - the biggest drop by a scoring leader in tournament history.

In fact, Alexander's 11 points was his lowest output of the season.

While Alexander scored more than 40 points twice this season, including a season-high of 43 against Alabama-Birmingham, the Badgers allowed 43 points or fewer three times and held Wisconsin-Green Bay to a mere 34 points earlier this season.

It wasn't the first time the Badgers hassled him. Wisconsin held Alexander to 18 points in Wisconsin's rout of Fresno State last season.

Related information
Despite losses, Spartans earn unprecendented top seed
Conference tourney champs earn mixed NCAA reviews
No. 5 seeds must proceed with caution against 12 seeds
Statitudes: NCAA tournament tidbits
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