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Among 100-Point Players, Bevo Francis Merits More Mention

Clarence "Bevo" Francis in December 1952, when he was a star for Ohio's Rio Grande College.
Clarence "Bevo" Francis in December 1952, when he was a star for Ohio's Rio Grande College.

"Hoops, He Did It Again: Player Has Second 100-Point Game."

That was one of our headlines Monday, when we posted about Grinnell College basketball player Jack Taylor's 109-point performance the night before in a victory over Crossroads College. As we noted, it was his second 100-or-better game. He poured in 138 points against Faith Baptist Bible College last year.

We also wrote Monday that, "Taylor is one of only three men to have hit the century mark in a single game between two NCAA opponents. ... Now, Taylor is the only college man to have hit or exceeded the 100-mark twice."

It was those lines that led University Nebraska-Lincoln journalism professor Bernard "Barney" McCoy to give us a call. His constructive criticism: We'd given short shrift to Clarence "Bevo" Francis, who's in the NCAA record books for the 113 points he scored while playing for Rio Grande College (of Ohio) in a 1954 game against Hillsdale College.

McCoy wanted to make sure we knew that Francis had another 100+ game while playing for Rio Grande (now known as the University of Rio Grande).

Now, we were aware that Francis also scored 116 points in a 1953 game against Ashland (Ky.) Junior College. But we'd seen that, as the NCAA writes, "the 116-point game and many of the 39 wins from 1952-53 were deemed ineligible as the NCAA established a still-standing policy that only games played against four-year U.S. colleges would count in a team's won-lost record and for team and individual statistics."

But McCoy points out that the decision to wipe Francis' 116-point game from the NCAA record books was made retroactively, which does have a tinge of unfairness about it. He also notes that Francis' big games came three decades before the three-point shot and a shot clock were brought to college basketball. Players typically couldn't wrack up points quickly back then.

So considerable respect needs to be given for Francis' accomplishments. As The New York Times has said:

"Francis spent only two seasons at Rio Grande, but his 46.5-point scoring average in 1953-54 remains an N.C.A.A. single-season record. He was enshrined in the N.A.I.A. Hall of Fame in April."

Francis, now 81, is still a legend at Rio Grande.

McCoy has produced a video about Francis and the Rio Grande team that "captured the hearts and imagination of an entire nation" as the players went up against — and beat — much bigger schools. Coming on the heels of a cheating scandal in men's college basketball, Rio Grande arguably saved the game's reputation.

One other note: Grinnell's Taylor was held to just 3 points in a game Wednesday. Wartburg College had two or three players assigned to defend against him the whole game. But Grinnell still won, 88-79.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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