Arizona Wildcats great Ernie McCray reminisces about record-setting 46-point performance


Editor’s note: With this being Day No. 46 in this site’s countdown to Arizona’s tip-off of the 2013-14 season, we offer you a blog written by Arizona Wildcats legendary basketball player Ernie McCray, who holds the UA record for most points scored in a game — 46 points — on Feb. 6, 1960.


What Scoring 46 Points Means to Me

By Ernie McCray
Special to

I, of course, will always remember scoring 46 points for the Wildcats against L.A. State back in February of 1960. At the end of the game there was a mob of autograph seekers, mostly kids, a lot of smiles and hand slapping and congratulations and all that goes with a memorable athletic accomplishment.

I thought that in a few days my little visit in the “zone” would be old news, long gone. And by the time the track and baseball seasons began I was right. It was no longer the buzz in town and life went on. And it never was a concern of mine that the record might be broken. Records are, they say, meant to be broken. And mine has come close to falling.

Damon Stoudamire came within one point one year and just a few years ago Jerryd Bayless caught fire in the first half of a game on national television and I thought that was it. I knew it was it. I wanted it to be it because I thought it would be a lot of fun to hear my name mentioned on TV. But such was not to be. I just continued enjoying a wonderful life.

Ernie McCray during his Arizona playing days. His 46 points in a 1960 game remains a school record (McCray family photo)

Ernie McCray during his Arizona playing days. His 46 points in a 1960 game remains a school record (McCray family photo)

But here it is almost 54 years since that night. And it still is talked about in a few circles. That’s so gratifying to this 75 year old wildcat round-baller they use to call “Easy Ernie,” considering that I’ve been a fan of Arizona sports, in general, and basketball, in particular, since the 40’s when I was growing up in the Old Pueblo and considering that my name today is mentioned alongside the great athletes my alma mater has produced.

The 46 points has had a lot to do with that, not to mention that I averaged about 18 points and over ten rebounds per game over my college career. But to be recognized like that is a bonus in my life that I couldn’t have imagined while I was growing up yelling “Bear Down!” and when I was knocking shots down in old Bear Down Gym.

It’s an honor of a lifetime, and it’s real cool having my words about the record included as part of Javier Morales’ countdown (46th day) to the basketball season.

What has happened since McCray set the school record of 46 points in 1960, when the UA beat Cal State-Los Angeles 104-84 at Bear Down Gym?
— Arizona has played 1,423 games over 52 full seasons
— The shot clock was instituted by the NCAA in 1985 and three-point line in 1986, increasing the chances for a player to score more
— Eleven different U.S. presidents have been in office
— Eight different UA head coaches have been employed
— Tucson’s population has more than doubled from approximately 213,000 in 1960 to nearly 530,000 today
— The UA’s enrollment has increased from 11,772 in 1960 to 39,236 today

* * * * * * *

Other No. 46 developments of note with the Arizona program:

Lute Olson’s 46 NCAA tournament victories ranks eighth all-time. Olson (46-28 in the NCAA tournament in 35 years of coaching) ranks behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (82 victories), North Carolina’s Dean Smith (65), North Carolina’s Roy Williams (62), Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (52), UConn’s Jim Calhoun (51), Louisville’s Rick Pitino (48) and UCLA’s John Wooden (47).

Mike Bibby and Hassan Adams share the UA’s record with 46 steals in Pac-12 games. The league was the Pac-10 when they played. Bibby had 46 in 1997-98 and Adams in 2004-05.

Countdown to Tip-off Blogs:
— Arizona Wildcats star recruit should not be compared to Blake Griffin
— Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller on fast track to Pac-12 success
Things you may not know about Arizona Wildcats point guard T.J. McConnell
— Arizona Wildcats will benefit from presence of Joseph Blair in practice
— Arizona Wildcats preparing for what could be memorable 2013-14 season publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports and

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