college basketball

The highest scoring games in March Madness history

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March 23rd, 2021

It’s time to dip into the March Madness history books and take a look at the five highest-scoring games in NCAA tournament history, and incredibly all five feature the Loyola Marymount Lions in games between 1988 and 1990.

To be honest, it’s easy to see why. The Lions' strategy was to run faster and harder than any other team and to simply out-score anyone they faced. It worked on some occasions, and blew up on others, but one thing it did guarantee was plenty of high-scoring thrillers.

1. Loyola Marymount 149, Michigan 115 (1990)

The No. 3 seeded Wolverines came into this game highly favored against the No. 11 seeded Lions, but that didn't matter one bit to Loyola Marymount, who quite literally ran the defending champs off the court.

LMU guard Jeff Fryer was the star of the show, scoring 41 points, including a record 11 three-pointers. Bo Kimble, who was the top scorer in the country at the time, added another 37 points for the Lions.

The two teams were separated by just eight points with 13:18 left on the clock, but Loyola stepped up to take a commanding lead and shock the Wolverines.

The Lions edged past Alabama in the regional semi-finals but crashed out to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in the Elite Eight.

2. Loyola Marymount 119, Wyoming 115 (1988)

The Lions turned Wyoming inside out in the opening round in 1988, shocking the No. 7 seeds in a 119-115 victory. The Cowboys had the early advantage and at one stage were up 13 points in the first half, but that lead quickly evaporated as Loyola went into the break with an 11-point lead themselves – including six points scored in the last 16 seconds of the first half.

That lead got even bigger early in the second half, and at one point the Lions were ahead 77-59 on the scoreboard. The star performances came from Kimble, who scored 29 points, and LMU forward Mike Yoest, who added another 25.

Wyoming’s Fennis Dembo summed it up after the game when he said, "They was possessed tonight. I ain't never played nobody like ‘em."

3. UNLV 131, Loyola Marymount 101 (1990)

Back to 1990 and an emotional tournament for the Lions, who were playing in memory of All-American forward Hank Gathers, who had collapsed on the court and tragically passed away before March Madness.

The nation was behind Loyola, but the Lions were no match for the eventual tournament winners, who were ahead for almost the entirety of this game. UNLV forward Stacey Augmon led the way with 33 points (including 25 in the first half), and Anderson Hunt chipped in 30.

Loyola never got closer than 13 points in the second half as UNLV marched on as top seeds.

4. Arkansas 120, Loyola Marymount 101 (1989)

The Lions were involved in another first round thriller in 1989 as the No. 12 seeds were knocked out by the No. 5 seeds in Arkansas. The Lions went into this eagerly anticipated game with the nation’s most prolific offense, but it was the Razorbacks who really lit up the scoreboard as they dropped a season-high 120 points.

Razorbacks star Mario Credit had only averaged 11 points a game up until that game, but the Lions' inability to defend allowed him to erupt for a career-high 34 point. Arkansas forward Lenzie Howell contributed another 27.

5. North Carolina 123, Loyola Marymount 97 (1988)

Back to 1988, and after Loyola’s thrilling high-scoring win over Wyoming, they were on the end of another white-knuckle game against UNC.

This was simply a story of opposing fortunes on offense, as the Tar Heels hit an astounding 79% of their field goal attempts, while the Lions connected on just 32% of their shots.

UNC guard Ranzino Smith scored 27 points, while JR Reid and Jeff Lebo added 19 each to bury the Lions.