Former Sun Devil House impressed by Jack Taylor's performance
That his memorable game didn't even match the second half of Jack Taylor's record-setting performance nearly left the loquacious House speechless.
"Eighty points in 20 minutes? Come on guy, that's ridiculous," House said from his Scottsdale home Wednesday. "That's just unbelievable."
A sophomore at Grinnell College in Iowa, Taylor lit up the basketball world and beyond Tuesday night by setting an NCAA record with 138 points in the Pioneers' 179-104 home victory over Faith Baptist Bible.
Slightly-built at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Taylor had 58 points by halftime and kept firing, taking down records as the shots fell through.
Taylor broke the NCAA record with 4:42 left in the game and went on to smash it by 25 points, hoisting an are-you-serious 108 shots — one every 20 seconds. He took 71 shots from the 3-point arc, more than some players take an entire season, and made 27.
"Seventy-one? I can't even imagine," said House, who retired from the Miami Heat in 2011 after 11 NBA seasons with nine teams. "That's like a pre-game workout."
Taylor finished 52 of 108 from the field overall, eclipsing the NCAA record of 113 points set by Rio Grande's Bevo Francis against Hillsdale in 1954. He also blew past the previous, impressive-in-its-own-right Grinnell record of 89 by Griffin Lentsch a year ago against Principia.
Current NBA players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony had plenty of praise for Taylor, and so did House.
"I couldn't imagine taking all those shots," House said. "I know it was fun, though. It had to be fun."
House had a little fun of his own against Cal.
He grew up in the Bay Area and considered the Bears his hometown team. Despite getting offers from numerous schools, Cal didn't even send House a questionnaire, much less a scholarship offer.
Using the slight as motivation, he had extra focus every time the Sun Devils played Cal, wanting a little see-what-I-can-do payback.
House got it on Jan. 8, 2000.
Playing in Berkeley, Arizona State and Cal went back and forth in a tight game that went to two overtimes.
House got hot early and his teammates kept feeding him.
Stroking jumpers and dropping in floaters, he scored 61 points that night, breaking the school record and tying the Pac-12 mark set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — then known as Lew Alcindor — for UCLA 33 years earlier.
House hit 18 of 30 shots from the field, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range, and went 18-for-19 on free throws to earn himself a prominent place in college basketball lore.
"I've always had a grudge against them and I do not like them to this day for that," House said about Cal. "Every time I played them, I made sure I was focused on hurting them as much as I could. I wasn't selfish and taking every shot, but I did make sure they got some of this business."
House got plenty of help from his Arizona State teammates, who saw the rhythm he was in and kept feeding him the ball. The Sun Devils needed all his points, too, pulling out the 111-108 win after House hit two free throws with 2.9 seconds left in the second overtime.
Taylor's teammates did the same thing for him, which caught House's attention nearly as much as the points he scored.
"You take your hat off to the guy for going out there and getting it done, and the guys who kept passing because I don't know if that would have gone off at some schools," House said. "You would think somebody at some point would be like, hey man, I need some of these shots. You already got 85, let me go ahead and get 60."
House got his against Cal, putting him with a small fraternity of players who can understand what it must have felt like for Taylor when shot after shot kept going in.
"It's an unbelievable feeling, a good feeling," he said. "It's hard to explain, you're just one with everything that's going on. You feel every moment, almost like your biorhythm is on point. It's hard to explain unless you've been there."
House has been there and even he's blown away by Taylor's accomplishment.
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