Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today’s list: The top 10 UA basketball single-game records:
Arizona made 31 baskets in a 69-60 victory over Grand Canyon a few days before Christmas, 1979. The UA statistics crew credited sophomore point guard Russell Brown with an assist on 19 of those field goals.
No one has since touched or even threatened Brown’s school record 19 assists. No one at so-called Point Guard U., has come close.
It is probably as close to unbreakable as any single-game individual record in the UA basketball books.
It wasn’t a one-game fluke, either. Brown is the only UA player ever to get 11 assists in a half (he did so twice, and not in the Grand Canyon game). And it wasn’t home-cooking by a statistics crew; he got 17 assists in a 1980 game at Cal.
The 5-foot-10-inch son of a Hollywood stuntman from Inglewood, California, holds the UA career record with 810 assists. His closest pursuer is Mustafa Shakur with 670.
What makes Brown’s UA career so intriguing is that the Arizona coaching staff recruited perhaps the No. 1 point guard in high school basketball in 1979, Los Angeles’ Leon Wood. But on the night Brown dished 19 assists, Wood played just four minutes and didn’t score.
Wood transferred to Cal-Fullerton at year’s end and in 1984 became the NBA’s 10th overall draft pick. In a 1983 interview with the Star, he said he left Tucson, in part, because “it’s just that Russell Brown had to play; I knew I’d be splitting time.”
Brown’s ability to find an open man in traffic wasn’t anything romantic. “I’m not scared to make a pass,” he said. “Anyone can do it, but they’re hesitant. All I need is a glimpse of the guy.”
Brown, now 57, did not play pro basketball.
Here’s our list of the 10 top single-game individual records in UA basketball history: