It feels like a distant memory now, but After nearly 16 minutes of a late November college basketball game between Savannah State and No. 6 Louisville, only one of the two teams had scored. The Cardinals led 29-0 before Savannah State dented the scoreboard, eventually taking a 41-7 lead into the locker room at intermission and rolling to a lopsided 87-26 victory. Savannah State misfired on 24 of its 26 field goal attempts before halftime, and went 0-16 behind the 3-point arc for the game.
The Tigers’ first-half futility sent us scrambling for the college basketball record books to see what other teams had struggled that mightily to put the ball in the basket over a half or — in some cases — an entire game. While this may not be an exhaustive list, here are 10 of the other ugliest offensive outputs since 1986, a year that seems to be a logical dividing point in history after college hoops instituted a shot clock and 3-point line to prevent scores like Duke 7, North Carolina 0 (halftime) in 1979.
Games are listed in chronological order.
1. Coastal Carolina vs. Georgia Southern, January 2, 1997
Coastal Carolina’s defense held Georgia Southern to a then-record low (for the shot-clock era) 21 points in a January 1997 blowout win at home. The Chanticleers led their visitors 31-11 at halftime and prevailed 61-21, with the Eagles only able to convert two of their 18 field goal attempts inside the 3-point line.
2. Rice vs. South Florida: November 30, 1997
USF and Rice played a first half to forget at the San Juan Shootout in November 1997. The Bulls and Owls scored eight points — combined (!) — in the opening 20 minutes of play, which represents the NCAA (post-1986) record for fewest points in a half between two teams. USF led 6-2 at the break, but both teams got the lids off of their baskets in the second half: The Bulls prevailed 49-46.
3. Monmouth vs. Princeton: December 14, 2005
The lowest-scoring total for both teams in a game since 1986 came in a December 2005 clash between Monmouth and Princeton. The Hawks only scored 41 points in the game, but still remarkably won by 20. Final score: Monmouth 41, Princeton 21. Tigers coach Joe Scott summarized his team’s performance this way: “Obviously, we just couldn’t score…the ball wasn’t going in the basket.” We think that qualifies as an understatement.
4. Kansas State vs. Savannah State: January 7, 2008
Apparently, Monday wasn’t the first time the Savannah State basketball team has had such drastic problems putting up points: A 2008 game against Kansas State was nearly that bad. The Tigers were an abysmal 1-23 from the floor after halftime (or 4.3%), the worst 20-minute shooting percentage in NCAA history at the time. The Wildcats outscored SSU 48-4 in the second frame, walking away with an 85-25 victory when the final horn sounded.
5. George Washington vs. Saint Louis: January 10, 2008
The current shot clock-era record for fewest points scored by one team in a game also came in January 2008 (apparently that was either a bad week for offense or a good week for defense?). The George Washington Colonials held Saint Louis to a ridiculously low 20 points in a 49-20 victory to open conference play. Bryce Husak came off the bench to lead the Billikens in scoring: He had five points.
6. Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M: March 1, 2008
At first glance, the final score of this game doesn’t look historically bad: Oklahoma (pictured) beat Texas A&M 64-37 in a March 2008 Big 12 Conference game. However, the stats don’t tell the whole story. The Aggies were held scoreless for 16 minutes and eight seconds of game time, from midway through the first half until 16:42 remained in the contest, setting an NCAA record for the longest scoring drought ever.
7. California vs. Notre Dame, November 26, 2010
The California Golden Bears were undefeated heading into an Old Spice Classic semifinal date with Notre Dame, but that all came apart quickly. Cal was only able to muster five points (compared to the Fighting Irish’s 21) in the first half of an eventual 57-44 defeat. Of course, that wasn’t all that came apart that night at Disney: the tournament logo at center court also came unglued and had to be taped down during the game. ‘Twas an ugly night all the way around, apparently.
8. Georgetown vs. Tennessee: November 30, 2012
The Tennessee Volunteers put the clamps on No. 20 Georgetown in November 2012, holding the Hoyas (pictured) to a paltry 37 points. Oh, and Tennessee still lost. Georgetown’s Markel Starks hit a go-ahead shot with more than four minutes to play that put his team on top 37-36, a basket that also turned out to be the game-winner: Neither team would score again.
9. Dayton vs. Northern Illinois: December 1, 2012
The 2012-2013 Northern Illinois basketball team, which limped to a 5-25 record, had a hard time scoring points on a consistent basis. That was clearly evident in December 2012, when NIU only scored five points in the first half of a 60-43 loss at Dayton. The Huskies went more than 16 minutes without scoring a point in the process, falling to 1-5 on the season.
10. Eastern Michigan vs. Northern Illinois: January 26, 2013
The 2012-2013 Northern Illinois basketball team, which limped to a 5-25 record, had a hard time scoring points on a consistent basis. That was clearly evident in January 2013 (deja vu, anyone?), when NIU only scored four points in the first half of a 42-25 loss at Eastern Michigan. Northern Illinois shot a miserable 1-31 from the floor in the first half for a field goal percentage of 3.2%. A late second-half 3-pointer was NIU’s only make from behind the arc in 33 3-point attempts.