Top 10 Single-Game Final Four Performances of the Last 25 Years
10. Shane Battier, Duke vs. Arizona in 2001 Final
Shane Battier scored 18 points, including two crucial baskets down the stretch, to lead Duke past Arizona by a score of 82-72 in the ’01 championship game.
Battier was the only Blue Devil to play all 40 minutes and yet he didn’t commit a single turnover, while recording six assists, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. He shot 7-of-14 from the field.
9. Ty Lawson, North Carolina vs. Michigan State in 2009 Final
Wayne Ellington may have won the Most Outstanding Player award for the ’09 Final Four, but teammate Ty Lawson’s performance in the championship game was one for the record books.
The guard set all-time Final Four bests with 18 free throw attempts (he made 15) and eight steals, which is also the most ever in any NCAA tournament game.
So while Lawson was only 3-of-10 from the field, he still managed to score 21 points, drop six dimes, and pull down four boards to help UNC smother
8. Mark Wade, UNLV vs. Indiana in 1987 Semifinal
Not only are three of my top 10 performances from the same year, but two of them come from teammates in the same game.
In the ’87 national semifinal between UNLV and Indiana, the Rebels’ Mark Wade set a Final Four record with 18 assists.
He was only 1-of-6 from the field with just four points, but his record-breaking performance earns him a spot on this list.
7. Freddie Banks, UNLV vs. Indiana in 1987 Semifinal
And many of those assists went to Freddie Banks, who set a Final Four record with 10 three-pointers.
The Hoosiers won the game, 97-93, but Banks finished with 38 points on 12-of-23 shooting, while adding eight rebounds and an assist.
6. Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State vs. Florida in 2000 Final
After the Gators quickly cut the Spartans’ 11-point halftime lead down to six, Mateen Cleaves sprained his ankle less than four minutes into the second half of the ’00 championship contest.
The senior came back only four minutes later, and instantly helped spark a 16-6 run to ice the game.
Cleaves finished with 18 points, four assists, and two rebounds. He shot 7-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-4 from long distance, en route to garnering Most Outstanding Player honors.
5. Juan Dixon, Maryland vs. Kansas in 2003 Semifinal
Juan Dixon tied a career high with 33 points in a 97-88 win over Kansas in the ’03 semis.
The Terp converted on 10-of-18 attempts from the floor, including 5-of-11 from three, went 8-for-11 from the line, and tossed in three rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while only turning the ball over once in 37 minutes.
Dixon added 18 points and five steals in Maryland’s win over Indiana in the title game.
4. Danny Manning, Kansas vs. Oklahoma in 1988 Final
Danny Manning set a Final Four record with six blocked shots in Kansas’ semifinal victory over Duke in ’88.
He also poured in 25 of his tournament-high 163 points in that game on 12-of-21 shooting, while completing the double-double with 10 rebounds.
But that wasn’t even the forward’s best performance of the weekend. Manning recorded 31 points, 18 boards (seven offensive), five steals, and two blocked shots in the Jayhawks’ 83-79 win over Oklahoma in the championship game.
3. Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse vs. Texas in 2003 Semifinal
Carmelo Anthony’s spectacular freshman season peaked during the ’03 Final Four at the Superdome in New Orleans.
He scored a career-high 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting to help third-seeded Syracuse upset No. 1 Texas, 95-84, in the national semifinals.
The forward shot 6-of-7 from the line and 3-of-4 from behind the arc, pulled down 14 rebounds, had three steals, and chipped in an assist.
Two days later, the Most Outstanding Player scored 20 points and tallied 10 boards as the Orange defeated Kansas in the championship game.
2. Mario Chalmers, Kansas vs. Memphis in 2008 Final
With 2:12 left in the ’08 championship game, Memphis had a nine-point lead. But then the Tigers started missing free throws and Kansas began chipping away until Mario Chalmers hit a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left.
“Mario’s Miracle,” as the shot is now known in Jayhawks circles, forced the seventh ever championship game overtime, during which KU won, 75-68.
Chalmers’ final line included 18 points and four steals.
1. Keith Smart, Indiana vs. Syracuse in 1987 Final
As a Syracuse alum, it pains me to put this at No. 1, but Keith Smart’s game-winning basket in the ’87 title game against the Orangemen is one of the most famous shots in the history of college basketball.
The 6’1″ Smart scored 12 of the Hoosiers’ final 15 points, including that highly-contested 16-footer from the left side of the floor with just five seconds left on the clock.
Smart finished the game with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and six assists.