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The Marriott Center's Greatest Game: BYU's 1979 bout with Michael Brooks and La Salle

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35 years ago this month, BYU edged La Salle 108-106 in triple overtime. It was an all-time college classic and the greatest game ever played at the Marriott Center. Several players help us recall the contest.

La Salle's Michael Brooks drives during a road game.
La Salle's Michael Brooks drives during a road game.
All photos courtesy Kevin Bonner - La Salle Athletics

After a grueling triple-overtime basketball battle, Michael Brooks stood in an arena more than 2,000 miles away from home with tears running down his face, listening as a crowd of 22,791 appreciative fans chanted his name.

The capacity crowd saw two National Players of the Year, three All-Americans, five future NBA players, and nine NBA draft picks that night on December 15, 1979 in Provo, Utah. It was the championship game of the Cougar Classic between the hometown BYU Cougars and the La Salle Explorers, and it would become the greatest game in the history of the Marriott Center.

★ ★ ★

In the opening game of the 1979 Cougar Classic, La Salle pulled off a 72-67 upset over Texas A&M under the direction of head coach Lefty Ervin. The Aggies started the season ranked 13th in the land, struggled getting out of the gate, but finished the season as Southwest Conference champions. It was a big win for the Explorers.

"Late against Texas A&M, I had been poked in the eyes and it was called as a foul," recalled Kurt Kanaskie, the starting shooting guard on that La Salle team and current assistant coach at Air Force. "I could barely see, essentially blind. So, I stepped up to the line and made my first shot. Before my second attempt I called a timeout. Coach Ervin was upset. He thought I had been careless with a timeout. He was shouting at me and I explained that I called timeout because I was worried about being able to help on defense because I couldn't see."

"Then coach took a second and looked at me and yelled, 'If you couldn't see, why did you take the first free throw!?'"

After the game, Ervin explained that a key to the game was to "rake the big man." This phrase baffled Utah media members, so Ervin clarified that rake was an East Coast term for stealing the ball. In a crucial final possession, La Salle backup point guard Greg Webster raked Texas A&M star big man Vern Smith to ensure the victory.

Throughout the contest, the Explorers were led by Michael Brooks, an All-American and captain of Team USA's 1979 Pan-American Games gold medal team — and team captain of the 1980 Olympic team that would never compete. Brooks scored 23 points while holding A&M's Smith to just 10.

This game caused Ervin to declare his optimism about the kind of season he thought La Salle was going to have. "I don't know if we are good enough to make the top 10, but I think we can make the top 20," he said.

While La Salle put together 40 minutes of great effort to work out a win over Texas A&M earlier in the evening, BYU had a strange night against UC-Santa Barbara. Most every player on the Cougars had spent the day taking two final exams, perhaps leading to BYU having an off night.

"For a few agonizing moments there the Coogs were the Black Sox reincarnated," wrote Deseret News reporter Lee Benson. "You'd have sworn they were throwing the game. They were tossing all kinds of passes to a new sixth man named Thin Air. Once, they threw a free throw that missed the basket by a foot. Another time a shot went up from six feet that hit the edge of the backboard. Of 14 shots made in the first half only three were outside eight feet."

Despite the rough first half, the Cougars responded in the second half with junior Danny Ainge's clinical 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 4-of-6 from the line, which he did while also dishing nine assists. Sophomore Devin Durrant led the Cougars with 25 points and eight rebounds. Steve Craig provided a spark from the bench with 18 points and three assists.

The win extended the 18th-ranked Cougars' record to 5-1, but coach Frank Arnold was still waiting for things to come together.

"We are yet to hit on all five pistons," Arnold said after the game. As Arnold looked forward to the matchup with La Salle, he quipped, "If we play like we did tonight (against Santa Barbara), I'll not be real comfortable." He also added, "Brooks, he's a superstar, but boy I'll tell you, he's not alone."

Arnold would be proven both right and wrong. He wasn't going to be "real comfortable," but for a very long stretch, Brooks was going to be alone.

★ ★ ★

"My first impression was how clean the city was," La Salle point guard Kevin Lynam said of his first visit to Provo, "and how friendly the people were! Coming from the East Coast, from Philadelphia —  it's the 'city of Brotherly Love' — but sometimes not so. Everyone seemed very genuine, but it was snowy and cold there."

The hometown Cougars' starting lineup for the 1979 Cougar Classic championship game was comprised of Ainge, Durrant, Scott Runia, Fred Roberts and the late Alan Taylor. Meanwhile, La Salle started Brooks, Kanaskie, Lynam, James Connolly and Stan Williams.

"Brigham Young had Roberts, Taylor, and another guy who was 6-foot-10 [Stan Trumbo]," Brooks, who now coaches basketball in Switzerland, remembered in an interview with Vanquish The Foe. "Stan Williams and I were the tallest guys on our team, and we were 6-foot-7. I knew that was going to be a challenge."

"I was looking forward to playing Danny Ainge," Kanaskie recalled. "BYU ran the same play at the beginning of every game. It was a backdoor cut and we were prepared for it. We stole the ball."

With an uptempo style on display, BYU finds itself trailing early while struggling to find a transition game — leading to a 2-of-8 start from the field. Meanwhile, La Salle is fire. All five starters score by the time the Explorers reach 13 points, and Kanaskie drains three 20-footers over Durrant. Even Williams, a 47 percent free throw shooter, drops in two charity attempts. Everything finds the bottom of the net for La Salle, which leads 17-5 early.

The Marriott Center crowd — sensing the game getting away — increases its presence in support, willing the Cougars to get going. Mercifully, Runia hits back-to-back jumpers to keep the Cougars within shouting distance.

For the next 10 minutes or so, the teams trade buckets, with BYU failing to get closer than 10 points and La Salle unable to extend the lead beyond 14.

During this stretch, Explorers star Brooks puts his full offensive arsenal on display. He scores with post moves on both the right and left block; runs a curl to the right elbow, catches a pass, and quickly turns over his right shoulder to drain a 15-footer; flies down the floor to throw down a huge "dunk shot"; and scores off the dribble while drawing a foul. With his varied offensive collection, of course Brooks drew fouls — any defender would be off balance trying to handle him. Brooks makes his free throws. Thirteen points.

Ervin offered this on-the-nose description of Brooks: "When he turns on the energy, and it's usually turned on, there isn't much you can do to stop him. He has awesome physical and mental energy."

With BYU down 12, Ainge draws a foul while having his shot goaltended. He hits the free throw, cutting the deficit to nine, 42-33. For the first time since going down 15-5 two minutes into the game, the Cougars pull within 10. Sensing a shift in momentum, the crowd begins to surge.

A La Salle miss put the Cougars on the run and Runia hits from the corner. The lead is down to seven. The Explorers travel on their next possession, making it BYU ball yet again, and the crowd surges still.

"This is when it gets so difficult for visiting teams to play in the Marriott Center," color analyst Mel Rogers explains to his TV audience watching on KBYU. "The Cougars get a roll going, the fans come to life, and it seems like everything you do as a visitor goes wrong."

Durrant hits two from the line, and La Salle slows its pace to take advantage of the lack of shot clock. The Explorers deliberately work the ball around, throwing seven straight passes from guard to guard 30 feet from the hoop. The crowd boos loudly. After 50 seconds, La Salle gets careless and turns it over. Runia quickly finds Roberts for a bucket to end the half: 42-39, Explorers.

Out of the halftime break, Ainge and Durrant each score within the first minute to give the Cougars their first lead at 43-42. The lead would change three times in the next few minutes, but with 17:00 minutes remaining, La Salle's Williams grabs an offensive rebound and put back, making BYU's lead 49-48.

The most spectacular one-man band to hit Provo since Father Escalante   - Lee Benson, Deseret News

This was an important moment. The putback by Williams comes just before the beginning of perhaps the single-most dynamic and dominant individual performance to ever be witnessed in Provo.

For the next 16 minutes, Michael Brooks will score every point for La Salle — 28 consecutive points — single-handedly keeping his team alive in front of a sellout road crowd versus the 18th-ranked team in the country.

★ ★ ★

The young Michael Brooks, a freshman, tried out for his basketball team at Philadelphia's West Catholic Prep. After a couple practices, his coach made cuts. There were 19 spots on the roster, and agonizingly, Brooks listened as 18 names were called — none of them his. Finally, he heard his name. Last.

As Brooks then recalled, "I couldn't do anything right in practice. I was thinking about quitting, but then one of the starters who didn't play in one game was crying and threatening to quit, too. I thought to myself, 'God, here I am not playing and this guy is crying.' So I waited until the last game of the season and told the guys I was going to start the next year. They all laughed at me and said, 'Aw, get outta here.' I figured maybe I'd bitten off more than I could chew. But I started."

Michael honed his game on an old backboard nailed to a light post at 58th and Willows in the Angora neighborhood in Southwest Philly. His pledge to hoops helped him endure pressures to join a neighborhood gang. "All the guys knew I wanted to play basketball and besides, who's ever seen a tall guy in a gang?" Brooks then recollected.

Michael's desire to play ball was strong enough to lead him from being the last guy on the team as a freshman to starting as a sophomore, and it kept him away from trouble. Now, even though he was seeing the floor, he had a new problem. Michael was being overlooked.

Just four blocks to the west of West Catholic Prep, a high school basketball sensation named Gene Banks was playing for the Speedboys of West Philadelphia High. Gene and Michael were friends and childhood teammates. During Michael's senior year, he was setting all the records at West Catholic but despite that, he remained under-recruited. Banks' shadow loomed large as nearly every coach making the trip to West Philadelphia came to see Banks play and try to entice him to their program. Banks was, after all, the number-one high school player in the country that year.

Beyond that, Banks' style was flashy and intoxicating, while Brooks brought his lunch pail to the court. Banks would commit to Duke where he was a two-time NCAA All-American performer. While the coaches flocked to Banks, just a nine-minute walk down Chestnut Street was another program-changing player in Brooks, playing in relative obscurity.

This was much to the benefit of then-La Salle coach Paul Westhead. "La Salle showed the most interest from the beginning," he explained then. "We literally went to every game that Michael played his senior year. When he began showing how good he was, it was too late for other schools to try to come in and sweep him away."

The local universities knew about Michael, as reflected in the only five schools that showed any genuine interest in him: St. Joseph's, Villanova, La Salle, Rutgers and Memphis State (now, University of Memphis).

Brooks decided in La Salle's favor, influenced by an encounter with Explorers legend Tom Gola. Gola led La Salle to the National Championship in 1954 and is honored as the namesake of La Salle's basketball arena. As Brooks reminisced, "He had a nice Cadillac. When I first met him, I was in shock. He drove me from my high school to the campus and I couldn't say anything. I just sat there in amazement and watched him drive. When someone like that talks to you, you feel honored."

The speechless young man ended up surpassing the Cadillac owner in multiple categories of La Salle's record books, most notably in scoring.

Just five years removed from being the last guy to make his high school team, Brooks was named captain of Team USA, which he led to a gold medal at the Pan-American games. His Team USA coach, Indiana's Bobby Knight, declared before the beginning of the 1979-80 season: "If I were allowed to start my own team tomorrow and pick anybody for it that I chose, the first person I would pick would be Michael Brooks."

★ ★ ★

Arnold would talk about his adjustments for the All-American: "We went to our jockey defense. Surrounding (Brooks) as best we could... We tried one, two and even three men on him. He went over, through and around them."

Brooks is out-working and out-hustling Taylor, Roberts, and Trumbo. Brooks begins his scoring run by shooting 6-of-6 which he converts for 14 points, as two scores go for three-point plays. Taylor fouls Brooks on a 12-footer in the middle of the key, and after the ball drops through the basket an audible groan emanates from the 22,000-plus spectators. Sure, the shot means La Salle has extended its lead to seven, but there is a keen sense of dread in that groan, as if the crowd feels there is no way BYU is going to win with him on the floor — especially with how volcanically hot he's shooting.

"As they say in today's world, that was Jordan-esque," Brooks remembered with a huge laugh. "When you're hot, they go in. In that era of basketball, it was unheard of. I wasn't thinking about how many points I was scoring in a row. I'm just thinking about, 'I have the hot hand, teammates are giving me the ball, and hopefully I can make them proud by making the shots.'"

Brooks finally misses a shot on his ninth try during the 28-point stretch, during which he shoots 13-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from the stripe.

"The amazing thing about Michael's scoring run was that it wasn't forced," Kanaskie pointed out. "Sure, we knew he was hot, but it all occurred within the system and through the course of play. Michael got the ball because he worked to get open and was in good scoring areas. Coach didn't tell us to just force the ball into him. As he continued to score, honestly, we never really realized that he had scored so many in a row."

There's 8:30 left now, and Brooks has powered La Salle to a 66-63 lead. The Explorers slow their tempo considerably and inexplicably, Brooks' teammates are finishing offensive possessions without their superstar touching the ball. Because of this, La Salle is unable to extend its lead. Meanwhile, Durrant picks up a couple buckets, rakes the ball away, leads two breaks, and finds Alan Taylor for a stuff. The mini burst gives BYU a 69-68 lead with 6:30 left.

With five minutes left and BYU maintaining a one-point lead, coach Arnold signals for the four-corners offense. The highly educated BYU fans erupt! With ball handlers like Ainge, Runia, Craig and Durrant, it was tough for any team to get the ball back without conceding a basket or a trip to the foul line.

"We felt like rabbits chasing that four-corners offense. It was difficult because it seemed like every player could dribble really well and it was hard not to foul," Lynam recalled. "Whenever BYU had a two- to four-point lead, they let Ainge and Craig work that offense and it was a game changer."

"Defending it was so tiring; at the end of the game your legs are just burning because you are just literally racing around the court," Lynam continued. "Then you've got to collect yourself and just stay in front of your guy, eventually he has to do something with the ball."

Add Taylor, Trumbo, Roberts or Greg Kite crashing the offensive glass, and the fans knew it was tough for opponents to prevent the Cougars from a second chance opportunity.

Each player takes turns dribbling to the circle then turning and passing the ball back to their teammate at half court. With each pass back the enormous crowd cheers louder. BYU uses the scheme to great success, extending its lead to five on a pair of Ainge free throws with 3:00 left. It's 77-72.

The final basket from Brooks during his 28-consecutive point run is his most impressive. Lynam quickly finds Brooks, who is collapsed upon immediately by Taylor, Durrant and Ainge, making the red-hot player feel like he's in a clown car. But Brooks elevates with six arms desperately trying to disrupt his shot. Nothing. But. Net. BYU leads 79-76 with 1:30 left on the clock.

Craig immediately pushes the ball to the rim, where he's called for charging through La Salle's Connolly. Arnold is beside himself and has a fiery conversation with Craig. One can assume with a high probability of accuracy that the content of that 'conversation' was about holding a three-point lead with a little more than a minute left and playing alongside the perfect group of players for the four-corners offense. Instead, very little time is used and the charge sends Connolly to the line as the Explorers are in the bonus. Connolly, an 83 percent foul shooter, misses the front end of a one-and-one. BYU secures the rebound.

La Salle's full-court pressure troubles Craig and Ainge, but they cycle the ball up to a wide-eyed Runia, who sees the lane open and, rather than milking the clock, takes it straight to the hole — and misses a floater. La Salle collects and Lynam is fouled while handling the ball up the floor. Lynam hits both free throws, ending Brooks' consecutive points streak. BYU leads 79-78.

With 50 seconds left, Arnold is finally able to coax the Cougars back into running four corners. After 20 seconds tick away, La Salle is left with no choice and fouls Runia near mid-court. He sinks both free throws, but La Salle's backup point guard Webster quickly puts up a floater and it drops through. BYU leads 81-80 with 23 seconds remaining.

In their haste to break the press and beat a 10 second violation, the Cougars pass to Roberts, who to this point in the season was a 53% free throw shooter. Wisely, La Salle fouls Roberts with 0:13 on the clock. Roberts hits the first, but misses the second. 82-80, BYU.

Lefty Ervin calls timeout for La Salle. Imagine for a minute that you are Ervin. Is there any doubt who you want to take the big shot?

Surprisingly, the Explorers don't go to the baller Brooks, who has a monster 41 points at this point. Kanaskie misses a shot three feet behind the top of the key. The rebound is gathered by the shortest player on the floor, the point guard Lynam, who tosses up a rainbow with one second left and nails it.

Lynam remembers his clutch shot. "I was fortunate to knock down that shot. It was a lucky break as the ball fell into my area. I quickly picked it up and just shot it. There wasn't more to it than that."

The Cougars and Explorers head to overtime tied, 82-82.

★ ★ ★

In the first three minutes of overtime, the Cougars and Explorers trade baskets. But a defensive stop is finally made in an unusual way: La Salle fouls Ainge, who misses the front end of a one-and-one.

Ainge then almost comes away with a steal, but bobbles the ball which finds its way to Brooks for a jam -- 45 points for Brooks, a new Marriott Center record (previously 44 from Arizona's Coniel Norman), and the Explorers hold a four-point lead.

BYU's superstar Ainge responds with a slick 22-footer. La Salle employs four corners, resulting in a Lynam layup, who totals six points in the short extra frame.

The Cougars miss on their next trip down the floor, La Salle's Connolly rebounds, but Durrant makes a heads up play to tie him up for a jump ball. Alternate possession wasn't the rule then — they simply went to the nearest jump circle and let the athletes decide. Down four with less than a minute left, Durrant wins the critical tip, and Ainge controls and fires home an 18-footer for two. That's Ainge's last bucket of the game to finish with 19 points. Ho-hum stuff for BYU's G.O.A.T.

La Salle tries to set up four corners again, but Ainge knocks the ball loose and Runia comes away with it, drawing a foul on a breakaway layup. The senior all-conference performer hits both pressure-packed free throws. He's made four of those pressure freebies thus far. Tie game, 39 seconds left.

La Salle elects to play for the last shot. Lynam tries another buzzer beater from 19 feet. The shot is short, bounces off the front of the rim, off the glass, and then falls over the front of the rim to the delight of the crowd.

"There wasn't much time left when I got the ball," Lynam recounts. "I had to rush. One of the defenders [Runia] closed out, I had to adjust the shot, I kind of had to hitch it back cause I though he was going to block it. I wouldn't have taken that shot in a regular game scenario with time left. The defender made a good defensive play, but that one almost went in as well."

92-92.

Brooks scores with 3:48 to go in the second overtime and is fouled by Taylor, who has fouled out of the game with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Taylor would go on to be a first team All-WAC performer. Brooks misses the foul shot. The next time down the floor, Brooks hits a turnaround J for 49 points and a four-point Explorer lead.

On the next La Salle possession, Ainge picks up his fifth foul, leaving the Cougars to dig out of a hole without their two best players.

"When Ainge fouled out," Lynam discloses, "I suspect the crowd thought, oh my gosh, we just lost Danny Ainge. That wasn't looking great for Brigham Young at that point."

Fortunately for BYU, Runia hits a jumper, Roberts rakes a steal, and Durrant connects on a shot. It's tied once again with 17 seconds left. Durrant scored a team-high 25 points.

Webster brings the ball up the floor for the Explorers and finds Brooks at the free throw line, which elicits something I've never heard. In anticipation and fear of Brooks' next shot, screams are audible at the Marriott Center. Brooks squares to the basket and misses off the left side of the rim. The rebound bounces high above the backboard, Trumbo gathers the ball in, and BYU is awarded a timeout with 0:07 remaining.

Out of the timeout, BYU fails to connect on the inbound pass for a turnover, as the Cougars always find ways to make life just a little more difficult. Brooks and Lynam get bottled up, but Kanaskie fires a wide open 18-footer angle left ... and it rims out.

"I wish I would have made that shot." Kanaskie told us. "We needed to close out that game. The longer it went, the more unlikely it became that we would win."

The Cougars survive again, and the crowd is treated to triple overtime with the score 98-98.

Trumbo scores the first basket of the third extra period on a tip in, marking BYU's first lead in any of the overtimes. The Cougars later extend the lead to four when Runia drives into the lane and finds Trumbo on a hard backdoor cut.

La Salle responds exactly how it should, immediately finding Brooks on the left post. He spins to the middle of the lane and hits a push shot to take his total to 51 points on 24-of-36 shooting — a record-setting performance in points, field goals made and field goals attempted. All three records still stand today. Brooks would play all 55 exhausting minutes that night.

"I take a lot of pride in being able to play all 55 minutes of the game. I wasn't expecting to, but I was able to," Brooks explained. "I didn't think much about it while it was happening. I was just trying to do my best to help my team win. After the game I was a little bit tired, needless to say."

In reference to the 51-point Marriott Center record, Brooks told Vanquish The Foe, "Sure, records are made to be broken, but I don't think this one will ever be broken." Perhaps if Jimmer never did it, he may be right.

Runia finds Trumbo in a deja vu moment for another lay-in. Trumbo has six of his 10 total points in the third overtime.

With 1:01 remaining and a 106-104 lead, Runia is fouled and steps to the free throw line to embark on the most elaborate free throw routine in BYU basketball history, agonizingly adding to the suspense of the moment. Runia takes a faux overhand shot and catches the ball chest high two feet in front of him, crouches low and bounces the ball quickly six times, then pounds four more slow dribbles as he rises up from the crouch, cocks the ball, hesitates, bends his knees, and finally releases.

Nylon.

Roberts approaches Runia to give him five. Instead they oddly shake hands, and have a quick and seemingly pleasant conversation. Runia's grinning ear to ear as he receives the ball again from the official. He performs his pre-shot ritual and drains the second. That marks 6-of-6 from the line for Runia, all made with the highest amounts of pressure possible in this extremely tight game.

With 10 seconds left and La Salle down two, Trumbo's huge overtime period is given its exclamation point as he swats a floater from Kanaskie driving baseline.

Finally, ball game. The Cougars win the 1979 Cougar Classic 108-106 in three overtimes.

★ ★ ★

Michael Brooks' performance landed him the honor of Cougar Classic MVP despite the loss. The partisan capacity crowd chanted "Brooks! Brooks! Brooks!" and remained in the Marriott Center for a five-minute standing ovation. Brooks slowly turned to each side of the arena with tears streaming down his face as the fans' appreciation and admiration cascaded down to the floor in a fitting display of sportsmanship.

"The standing ovation that 23,000 people gave Michael Brooks at the end of the game — I'm actually getting chills just thinking about it — was really genuine." Lynam told Vanquish The Foe. "Usually the MVP is from the winning team, in this case Brooks got it and everybody stood to their feet and gave him a healthy round of applause. Making it a point, almost over the top, to show their appreciation for the performance he put on."

"I don't think anyone on our team suspected that would happen," Lynam recalled. "We had goosebumps and Brooks broke down. I never saw him do that before."

What was behind the tears?

"The emotions of playing 55 minutes and being wiped out. Add losing in triple overtime by 2 points, then ending up the MVP of the tournament despite the loss," Brooks explained. "To have 23,000 people shouting your name in an opposing team's gym and feeling the crowd had really appreciated the effort I gave, it was really an exceptional honor."

"It made me really proud to play in front of the spectators at Brigham Young University. It was very emotional for me."

"It was the biggest ovation of the night," Kanaskie recounted. "The BYU fans were very gracious to Michael and he deserved every bit of it."

Coach Lefty Ervin later recalled, "I'll never forget that scene. People were crying. I took a team back there a few years later (November 30, 1984) and they were still talking about it."

Brooks' mother, Rita, was quoted as saying, "I called him up the day before the game and told him to go out and score 50. Little did I know he was going to do it." It ended up being the marquee performance for Brooks that season, who was later awarded the 1980 National Player of the Year trophy.

Deseret News reporter Lee Benson recorded: "There were nearly as many blue-and-white heroes as there were uniforms. Danny Ainge, Fred Roberts, Devin Durrant, Alan Taylor, Steve Craig, Steve Trumbo and Scott Runia — in particular, Scott Runia — took turns making key free throws, steals, field goals or defensive gems, all of which were absolutely necessary..."

"There were so many key punches, I can't remember them all," Coach Arnold said, echoing Benson's sentiment.

The game still eats at Kanaskie. "To this day, I feel bad about that game," he said. "It got away. BYU was very talented and we had them on the ropes in their building. Plus, winning the Cougar Classic was very prestigious those days, we had multiple opportunities to do so and came up just short. It's not a very happy memory for me."

Lynam carries some fondness for the night, however. "You always want to win a game, but looking back 35 years later and it is still one of the games that sticks out in my memory. Emotions that night were pretty high, triple overtime game in a sold out arena, well played game. It's a great memory. One of the best trips I had as a player was the one to Brigham Young."

Before BYU, Arnold was an assistant at UCLA under John Wooden and was a first-person witness to a 115-5 campaign in his four years there. He was on the sidelines as the Bruins won three championships. He watched Bill Walton and Sidney Wicks up close.

But of Michael Brooks and his 51-point performance, Arnold stated, "The single greatest performance by a college player I've ever seen. As good a college basketball player I've ever seen."

"I never had a game like that again," Brooks said. "I played in the NBA, I played in France and was named the best player of the year twice in a row, I won French championships. But this one game against Brigham Young is the one game that in my mind will always go down as my best game ever as a player. My marquee performance of my career."

"Sometimes when my best friends get talking, they get into what their best games were," Brooks continued. "When it is my turn, I like to recall that I played 55 minutes in a triple overtime game, scored 51 points on 24-of-36 shooting with lots of rebounds in a game that unfortunately we lost. It is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Two National Players of the Year, three All-Americans, five future NBA players, nine NBA draft picks, record-breaking performances, both teams shooting better than 50 percent (with no three-point line), and all the drama one could possibly desire.

It was the greatest game ever played in the Marriott Center.

★ ★ ★

Special thanks to Michael Brooks, Kurt Kanaskie and Kevin Lynam for permitting interviews and making this game come to life. Other quotes were obtained through researching microfilm archives of newspapers, magazines and books.

More thank yous to Kevin Bonner and La Salle Athletics, Kyle Chilton at BYU, Troy Garnhart at the Air Force Academy, and Pascal Rosenrens at BESP for your time and effort on our behalf. Thanks to those from the SB Nation family who lent assistance, including Matt Brown, Paul Flannery, Brett Hein and Steve Pierce.

Watch the classic on BYUtv.org with Jay Monson and Mel Rogers on the call.