The 56th Anniversary of Ernie McCray’s School-Record 46-Point Game

by on February 10, 2016 · 5 comments

in Culture, From the Soul, History, Life Events, Media, San Diego, Sports

Ernie McCray 46ptsEditor: Ernie McCray – one of our regular and beloved columnists – still holds an Arizona basketball record.  Ernie has  written about his college basketball days, plus we have posted a few about his accomplishments. One of the posts we published was entitled:

After the game that McCray won, his teammates went to a restaurant to celebrate but he didn’t join them – he knew he wouldn’t be served.

Here are a few others: here, here, here, here.

By Javier Morales / Arizona Basketball, U of A/ 6, 2016

Ernie McCray was listed as a center in 1960 although he was only 6’5?. On the night, he set the Arizona record with 46 points in a 104-84 win over Cal State Los Angeles 56 years ago today, McCray said in a 2014 interview that he made “four or five shots” from beyond what is the three-point line today. No three-point line or shot clock existed back then, making the feat that much more respectable (Tucson Citizen front page screen shot)

Ernie McCray 1960 BB.

Ernie McCray 1960.

For 56 years Arizona’s scoring record has stood, Ernie McCray’s 46 points at the old Bear Down Gym against Cal State Los Angeles.

The record has withstood the likes of Damon Stoudamire (45 points at Washington State in 1995), Joe Skaisgir (44 points in 1962) and Coniel Norman (also 44 points in 1974).

Jerryd Bayless was the last to come close on Feb. 10, 2008, with 39 points against ASU after he made his first seven shots, including four from three-point range.

“What the record really means to me is that I’m still mentioned as part of the basketball family at the University of Arizona,” McCray said in a 2014 interview I conducted with him.

“I like having my name mentioned with these guys to have come along. It’s an honor to be mentioned with some of these guys. I mean, they’ve had some guys who can play.”

ernie mccray Kicking back

Ernie today, kicking back.

McCray also wrote the following about his record-breaking night in a blog for last season:

“At the end of the game there was a mob of autograph seekers, mostly kids, a lot of smiles and hand slapping and congratulations and all that goes with a memorable athletic accomplishment. I thought that in a few days my little visit in the ‘zone’ would be old news, long gone. And by the time the track and baseball seasons began I was right.

“It was no longer the buzz in town and life went on. And it never was a concern of mine that the record might be broken. Records are, they say, meant to be broken. And mine has come close to falling.
“Damon Stoudamire came within one point one year and just a few years ago Jerryd Bayless caught fire in the first half of a game on national television and I thought that was it. I knew it was it. I wanted it to be it because I thought it would be a lot of fun to hear my name mentioned on TV. But such was not to be. I just continued enjoying a wonderful life.

“But here it is (56 years) since that night. And it still is talked about in a few circles. That’s so gratifying to this 77 year old wildcat round-baller they use to call ‘Easy Ernie,’ considering that I’ve been a fan of Arizona sports, in general, and basketball, in particular, since the 40’s when I was growing up in the Old Pueblo and considering that my name today is mentioned alongside the great athletes my alma mater has produced.

“The 46 points has had a lot to do with that, not to mention that I averaged about 18 points and over ten rebounds per game over my college career. But to be recognized like that is a bonus in my life that I couldn’t have imagined while I was growing up yelling ‘Bear Down!’ and when I was knocking shots down in old Bear Down Gym.”

Ernie McCray at FountainWhat has happened since McCray set the school record of 46 points in 1960, when Arizona beat Cal State-Los Angeles 104-84 at Bear Down Gym?

— Arizona has played 1,708 games over 55 full seasons
— The shot clock was instituted by the NCAA in 1985 and three-point line in 1986, increasing the chances for a player to score more
— Eleven different U.S. presidents have been in office
— Eight different Arizona head coaches have been employed
— Tucson’s population has more than doubled from approximately 213,000 in 1960 to nearly 530,000 today
— Arizona’s enrollment has increased from 11,772 in 1960 to 32,987 today

A remarkable stat for McCray: He is ranked No. 22 in career scoring at Arizona in only 76 games played in three years (freshmen were ineligible back then). Among Arizona’s top 10 scorers, the lowest amount of games played was 114 by Bob Elliott and Al Fleming. Sean Elliott, the career scoring leader with 2,555 points, played 133 games, an incredible 57 more games than McCray.

ernie mccray greenMcCray’s 46-point performance 56 years ago topped the previous record of 38 points scored by Ted Lazovich against ASU in the 1954-55 season.

A crowd of 2,055 filled Bear Down Gym on the night of McCray’s record performance, which also contributed to Arizona’s school-record 104 points at the time. Many of the fans remained afterward to get his autograph and share in his moment. Little did they know then that McCray’s name would still be on top of the record charts more than a half-century later.


Ernie hanging out with OB Rag staff in 2010. From Left: Rich Kacmar, Anna Daniels, Jon Carr and Ernie.

McCray is a Tucson High School and Arizona graduate who has become an upstanding citizen in San Diego as an educator and community activist. He contributes a blog for

His former teammate John Conner, a veteran guard on that 1959-60 team, told Tucson Citizen reporter Don Porter the night of McCray’s record scoring performance:

“Say, he’s one guy who really deserves this. Let me tell you, there’s not another guy who deserves it any more.”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

unwashedwallmartThong February 10, 2016 at 1:21 pm

A tall man w/ a kind heart.


bodysurferbob February 10, 2016 at 9:09 pm

go ernie! how do you do it, man? appreciate all that you do and write.


mr.rick February 13, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Stay down.


Thomas Gayton April 22, 2020 at 5:22 pm

FELIZ CUMPLEANOS HERMANO! Por favor keep inspiring with your written words and


Muir Avenue Ale July 11, 2020 at 11:59 am

Shame on me — I didn’t even know about this until Bryce Miller’s column in the U-T the other day. Big congrats on being named to the Wildcat Ring of Honor. I think I was vaguely aware of your days as a basketball star but, like many readers, I think of you more as the Rag’s resident sage/poet/educator emeritus. Btw loved the story of your “preparation” before the big game . . . :)


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