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GP: Countdown To The Hall Of Fame #1

Sep 8, 2013

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Gary Payton, Oregon State’s all-time leader in points, assists and steals, will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday. We are recapping his five greatest games as a Beaver, complete with game stories, box scores, photos and video highlights.

Payton’s best game came on Feb. 22, 1990 against USC when he scored an Oregon State and Gill Coliseum single-game record 58 points in a 98-84 overtime win in front of 9,878 fans. Payton was unstoppable that evening, as he knocked down 22-of-38 shots from the field and 13-of-16 from the stripe. He also became the school’s career scoring leader in the game when he hit a free throw in the first half to pass Steve Johnson with 2,036 points. Payton ended his outstanding Oregon State career with 2,172 points.

It’s the third-most points in a game by a Pac-8/10/12 player, trailing only 61 by both Lew Alcindor (Feb. 25, 1967 vs. Washington State) and Eddie House (Jan. 8, 2000 vs. California).

Here’s the game recap as written by Kip Carlson of the Roseburg News-Review:

OSU’s Gary Payton was unstoppable

CORVALLIS -- Al Payton came up from the Bay Area this weekend to watch his son play a little basketball. He figured when he returned to his Oakland home, he’d be taking with him the basketball Gary Payton was using when he set Oregon State’s career scoring record.

Make room for another, Dad. Gary outdid himself Thursday night.

“I hope we get that one -- I’ll take two of them home with me,” Al Payton said after Gary’s 58-point performance against Southern California at Gill Coliseum. Payton broke Steve Johnson’s career record by scoring his 2,036th point with a first-half free throw, then went on to break the OSU and Gill Coliseum single-game scoring records on a night when he was flat-out awe-inspiring.

It wasn’t hard to see what was going on -- if Gary wanted to do something against the Trojans after halftime, he’d just do it. Even USC Coach George Raveling had at least a little fun watching, even though he was watching his eighth-place team’s upset hopes being shot down by one red-hot gunner.

“As a head coach in the league, I’ve got more time in than anybody. That’s as good a one-man performance as I’ve seen in this league, whether it’s (Bill) Walton, (Kareem Abdul-) Jabbar or anybody. Part of that is because of Gary’s size (6-foot-4) -- it’s phenomenal,” said Raveling, who had coached 11 seasons at Washington State. “That could be the greatest one-man performance in the history of college basketball.

“In 30 years, when my grandson asks me about the greatest players I ever saw, I’ll tell him about a rainy night in Corvallis when I saw Gary Payton score 58 points. He’ll ask me how big he was, and I’ll say he was only knee-high to a grasshopper but he scored 58 points, and he only scored that many because the buzzer sounded.”

It wasn’t raining in Corvallis, but Payton’s night left a lot of heads spinning. He put the Beavers on his back and carried them in this one. He scored 32 points in the second half and eight in overtime as the Beavers overcame a 22-point first half deficit.

Payton was limited to two assists because the Beavers couldn’t handle his passes and were unable to convert layins, and their mistakes inside may have been responsible for Payton’s explosion.

“It’s a shame when that happens -- when it does, he just tries to score it himself,” OSU Coach Jim Anderson said. “At times I think he would have liked to dish it off more, but he didn’t feel they’d be able to handle it and he just did it himself.”

That meant finding a way through the Southern Cal defense in the key, and the driving, spinning Payton found ways time after time to free himself for short jumpers and scoop shots. It was everything from his highlight film thrown into one game.

He broke the 48-point OSU single game record he shared with Mel Counts, hitting a pair of free throws with 1:34 left in regulation for his 48th and 49th points. The Gill Coliseum record of 53 points, set by Loyola Marymount’s Bo Kimble in that December game when Payton scored 48, fell with two more free throws at the 3:09 mark of overtime.

The only higher-scoring game in Pacific 10 Conference history came when Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, scored 61 points against Washington State on Feb. 25, 1967.

“Everybody was struggling and coach decided to give me the ball more often,” Payton said. “Fortunately, I was on tonight.”

On like never before.