By Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
When you think of all-time great basketball performances, what comes to mind? Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance in 2006 and Wilt Chamberlin’s historic record setting 100 points in 1962 are two of the most common responses.
I bet only a few reading this thought of Furman’s own Frank Selvy’s historic night Feb. 13, 1954 against Newberry, when the Corbin, Ky. native scored 100 points in a 149-95 victory for the Paladins.
Dubbed as “Frank Selvy Night” by head coach Lyles Alley before the game, much to the dismay of the humble Selvy, a large portion of Selvy’s family from Corbin made the 250-mile drive down to Greenville, including his mother who had never seen him play at the college level.
Though the 4,000 fans packed into Greenville’s Textile Hall to watch the record-setting performance were not the only ones taking part in the historic event.
For the first time in South Carolina history, a live sportscast would be broadcasted throughout the state on WFBC-4 (now known as WYFF).
Right from the opening tip-off, fans would not be disappointed. The Paladins won the tip and the ball fell right into Selvy’s hands, who then dribbled the ball down the court and converted a layup two seconds into the game.
At that time, college basketball had four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves. And 2:43 into the opening quarter, the opponent responsible for guarding Selvy fouled out.
Selvy finished the first quarter with 24 points and 13 points in the second quarter, giving him a total of 37 for the first half.
At halftime, Alley made two changes. First was changing Furman’s jerseys from white to purple to allow contrast to Newberry’s jerseys so the viewers at home could discern the two teams.
The other was to take all of the other starters out for the second half and feed Selvy the ball. Afterall, this was his night.
In the third quarter, Selvy continued to score at a relentless pace, dropping 26 points to give the Paladins a 109-66 lead.
The fourth quarter was by far the brightest for Selvy, who was also known as the “Corbin Comet” and “Fabulous Frank.” Selvy scored 37 of Furman’s 40 points in the fourth quarter to reach the century mark.
But his final basket to get his one-hundredth point capped off an improbable night for the 6’ 3”, 180-pound senior.
With only a few seconds left, Selvy received the inbound pass near midcourt, averted a triple-team with a spin move and released the ball from about 40 feet out.
With the ball sailing in the air, Selvy told The State newspaper in 2004 that he thought “it felt like it was in.” And sure enough, the ball came spinning through the net as the final buzzer sounded.
Franklin Delano Selvy finished his historic night shooting 41-66 from the field, 18-22 from the free-throw line and grabbing 13 rebounds, setting a Division I NCAA record for points in a game that still stands.
Selvy went on to break 24 major NCAA records in his three-year career at Furman (freshman were not allowed to play varsity at the time). He still holds five of these records to this day.
Selvy earned All-American honors three years and was placed on the first team his junior and senior year while leading the nation in scoring with an average of 29.5 points per game and 41.7 points per game respectively. He was also named the United Press International National Player of the Year his senior year. He finished his Furman career with 2,538 points.
Later that year, Selvy would be drafted first overall in the 1954 NBA draft by the Baltimore Bullets.
College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and head coach Frank Mcguire said of Selvy, “The Southern Conference is the toughest league in the country and Frank Selvy is the best player in the league.”
Furman Basketball will celebrate Frank Selvy’s historic record at the Feb. 13 matchup against Mercer in Timmons Arena.