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November 23, 2010
Perfection
Not Just Attainable, Recurring

by Asher Fusco

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Iowa State's victory against Drake last week was noteworthy on a couple of fronts. First, the Cyclones won by 48 points. Yes, this is the same ISU team widely picked to finish last in the Big 12. No matter if the Bulldogs are due for a down season (learn more here!), bad Big 12 teams shouldn't beat bad Missouri Valley teams by nearly 50 points.

But what really caught my eye was the fact that Cyclone guard Scott Christopherson posted a perfect game of sorts. The 6-3 junior scored 29 points in 30 minutes by making all 11 of his field goal attempts, including all five of his three-point tries. He also went 2-for-2 at the line. Yes, this is the same Christopherson who used fewer than 15 percent of ISU's possessions last season while shooting 42 percent from the field.

Role-players end up with "perfect" offensive lines all the time, of course, shooting 1-for-1 or 3-for-3. But Christopherson's game was notable because of its scale. Notable but hardly unprecedented. Here are the 11-for-11 or better showings recorded by individual D-I players since the start of the 2007-08 season:

Information from BBstate.com and StatSheet.com.

J.J. Hickson, NC State, 11/15/07
Def. William & Mary, 66-47 -- 12-12 fga, 0-0 3fg, 7-10 fta, 31 points
Hickson managed one of the best shooting performances in recent history in his very first collegiate game. The 6-9 McDonald's All-American headlined NC State's season-opening victory against William & Mary, and was subsequently drafted in the first round of the 2008 NBA draft. He is now the post-Bron Cavaliers' top scorer, boasting a career 53.4 effective FG percentage in two-plus NBA seasons.

John Bryant, Santa Clara, 2/16/08
Lost to Pepperdine, 64-58 -- 11-11 fga, 0-0 3fg, 3-4 fta, 25 points
Bryant was a big deal (in more ways than one) for much of his four-year stint at Santa Clara. The 300-pound center was a dominant offensive force for the Broncos, especially in his junior season (2007-08). Bryant followed his 11-for-11 effort with a 15-for-20 showing two days later. The 6-11 center played with the NBA D-League's Erie Bayhawks last season before signing with an apparently confused German team.

Corey Raji, Boston College, 12/23/08
Def. Maine, 99-61 -- 12-12 fga, 0-0 3fg, 2-4 fta, 26 points
Raji exploded in a late-December blowout of Maine. What's interesting is that the stellar shooting performance came in the 6-6 forward's worst offensive season to date. He posted an effective FG percentage of less than 50 for the only time in his career on the heels of a freshman season in which he led the ACC in that category. He's still plying his ultra-efficient trade as a senior at BC.

Brandon Davis, South Alabama, 1/8/09
Def. Louisiana-Monroe, 90-57 -- 11-11 fga, 0-0 3fg, 8-10 fta, 30 points
Davis enjoyed a dominant senior season, shooting nearly 60 percent and leading the Jags to a 20-13 record. The game in question was a complete rout of a hapless Louisiana-Monroe team that won just six conference games. The 6-6 forward found his way to the free throw line often and also snared ten boards. Now a pro in Europe, Davis led a Lithuanian team to a national title in April.

Magnum Rolle, Louisiana Tech, 1/24/09
Lost to Boise State, 58-53 -- 11-11 fga, 0-0 3fg, 1-2 fta, 23 points
Rolle scored 43 percent of his team's points in a narrow loss to the Broncos in his junior year. He wasn't a stranger to outstanding performances during his Tech career, putting up 13-for-15 and 8-for-10 efforts in addition to his perfect game. Rolle was a second-round pick in last summer's NBA draft and is a starter for the D-League's Maine Redclaws.

Jason Johnson, South Carolina State, 1/24/09
Lost to Norfolk State, 68-62 -- 11-11 fga, 0-0 3fg, 9-15 fta, 31 points
Clearly there was something in the hoops karma on January 24, 2009. The same night that Rolle was busy going 11-for-11 in a losing cause, Jason Johnson was doing the exact same thing. Johnson was the lone bright spot for the Bulldogs in a back-and-forth MEAC game that saw subpar offense from both teams. He could have finished with something closer to 35 points if not for his career-long bugaboo, foul shooting. Johnson made 60 percent of his free throw attempts against Norfolk State and 52 percent during his two-year D-I career. He currently plays professionally in Europe.

Billy White, San Diego State, 2/14/09
Def. Wyoming, 71-60 -- 12-12 fga, 0-0 3fg, 0-0 fta, 24 points
If the name sounds familiar it should. White's the guy who just blasted Gonzaga for 30 points in 32 minutes last week. The 6-8 senior forward isn't new to this high-efficiency scoring stuff. His dismantling of Wyoming as a sophomore was part of a season in which he finished fifth in the Mountain West in offensive efficiency and first in effective FG percentage. White's perfect game came didn't include any free throws, which is unusual considering his knack for getting to the line. He is now the second-leading scorer on the much-discussed 2010-11 Aztecs.

Eric Boateng, Arizona State, 2/25/10
Def. Stanford, 68-60 -- 11-11 fga, 0-0 3fg, 2-3 fta, 24 points
The onetime McDonald's All-American who transferred to Tempe from Duke unleashed the best game of his career against an overmatched Stanford team. Boateng was a good bet to make this list: The 6-10 center posted an effective FG percentage of 66 during his senior season. He's currently playing in the D-League for the Idaho Stampede.

Scott Christopherson, Iowa State, 11/17/10
Def. Drake, 91-43 -- 11-11 fga, 5-5 3fg, 2-2 fta, 29 points
Marquette transfer Christopherson is a nice complementary player with the ability to stretch defenses. He's a career 45 percent three-point shooter but doesn't have the across-the-board (read: defensive) skills to be a fixture in the starting lineup on a good Big 12 team. Fortunately for Christopherson he plays for Iowa State. (Zing!) OK, all kidding aside his shooting performance against Drake was off the charts. He made twos, threes, and even managed to milk a couple free throws out of an otherwise quiescent Bulldog defense.

Others (10-for-10):
Taj Gibson, USC
Wesley Matthews, Marquette
Dominic Calegari, UC-Davis
Jon Avery, IUPUI
Jermaine Griffin, Texas-Arlington
Rob Diggs, George Washington
Kyle Hines, UNC-Greensboro

Over the past three years and change, only nine players have made as many or more shots without missing in a single game as Christopherson did last week. During the same period of time, seven other players have gone a perfect 10-for-10. Note additionally that there aren't a lot of guards on these lists--so what Christopherson did fully merits the term "freakish."

Most of the "perfect" big men fit the mold you'd expect: High-efficiency, medium-to-high usage, with an absolute aversion to three-point shots. Of the 102 shots taken and made by the 11-of-11 and better group, only five came from beyond the arc, all of which were made by Christopherson. The second-tier group went a combined 70-for-70 but made only two three-pointers, both by Dominic Calegari of UC-Davis.

So even within this rarefied and elite club of perfection, Christopherson's game was an outlier. It is likely we won't see its like again anytime soon. If I were Christopherson I'd be sure to save that box score.

Asher Fusco is a writer in New York City.

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