Shaquille O’Neal is a legend, a Hall of Famer, a Top 10 all-time great so I’d never claim that he was underrated but I do think people forget just how athletic he was as a college player. If you only saw Shaq as a bruising low-post bully then you missed out on a young Shaq leading fast breaks, dribbling the length of the court for monster dunks or blocking any and every shot in a ten foot radius.
Young Shaq also featured prominently in the craziest college hoops game in history –
LSU 148 Loyola Marymount 141
February 3, 1990 LSU hosted Loyola Marymount in a non-conference match-up.
Take a look at the cast of characters involved:
LMU player, Jeff Fryer took 22 3-pointers.
This was the absolute apex of LMU’s Coach Paul Westhead’s Run & Gun go go go offense led by Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers. At the time of this meeting LSU was ranked #14 and LMU #20. The Tigers were led by (then named) Chris Jackson, a shooting savant who could rack up points at an unbelievable rate, having dropped 55 on Ole Miss the previous season.
The game was played at an unheard of pace. LSU Coach Dale Brown, a nut case himself, had decided instead of trying to slow LMU down he’d try to out run them.
Young Shaq had a Triple Double with 20 points, 24 rebounds and 12 blocks. Gathers had 48 points and Jackson led LSU with 34 despite fouling out before OT. Even large and in charge Stanley Roberts was a perfect 10-10 from the field.
Sadly, as we all know Gathers collapsed and died a month later this turning this game from extraordinary to legendary.