Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats’ career assist record an unassailable mark


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Arizona’s career assist record of 810 held by Russell Brown is one of those unassailable marks in the Wildcats’ record book.

It’s right up there with Coniel Norman’s career record of 23.9 points per game and Sean Elliott’s 2,555 career points. It’s also a safe bet that Elliott’s 892 career field goals made will last our lifetime and then some. Bob Elliott (no relation) is next at 808 and “Big Bird” was a low-post scorer like none other in UA history.

Steve Kerr’s 57.3 percent mark from three-point range (an incredible 114 of 190 attempts) can be etched in stone.

To put Brown’s assist record in perspective, he is 140 ahead of second-place Mustafa Shakur, who accumlated 670 from 2004-2007. Brown averaged 202.5 assists per season. The 200 mark for a season was only eclipsed four times since Brown’s last season, 33 years ago in 1981.

The Wildcats’ last three assists leaders were not point guards — Nick Johnson (112 assists) last year, Solomon Hill (91) in 2012 and Kyle Fogg (99) in 2011.

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Many collegiate career records will not be broken because of the high rate of early entry into the NBA draft.

Arizona’s starting point guard T.J. McConnell must average what he produced last night against Augustana — 8 assists — to reach Brown’s season record of 247 assists. Brown achieved that mark in 27 games in 1978-79. McConnell has 31 regular-season games in which he must average 7.9 assists to reach Brown.

Brown averaged an incredible 9.1 assists in 1978-79.

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Arizona’s No. 10 players
Source: UA Media Relations
Lynn Naegle, F, 1939-41
Philip Peterson, C, 1944-45
William Elder, F, 1945-46
Jim Steele, F, 1947-48
Jon Conner, G, 1958-60
Wes Flynn, G, 1961-63
Ken Kurtz, G, 1964-65
Walt McKinney, G, 1968-71
Russell Brown, G, 1978-81
Brock Brunkhorst, G, 1982-85
Jason Richey, G, 1993-94
Mike Bibby, G, 1996-98

Mike Bibby's No. 10 is retired at Arizona along with Sean Elliott's No. 32, Steve Kerr's No. 25 and Jason Gardner's No. 22.

Mike Bibby’s No. 10 is retired at Arizona along with Sean Elliott’s No. 32, Steve Kerr’s No. 25 and Jason Gardner’s No. 22.

Even more astounding about Brown — he did not score more than 1,000 points in his four-year career. Brown, 5’10 and 170 pounds, scored only 702, averaging 6.6 points a game. Mike Bibby, who shared Brown’s No. 10 at Arizona, was a point guard who had 1,061 points in only two seasons before leaving early for the NBA.

Brown scored when it counted most, posting 18 points in one of the biggest upsets in UA history, a 70-69 victory over No. 4 UCLA at McKale Center in 1979. He also made one of the more memorable game-winning shots at McKale in 1981, following his own miss with five seconds left and drilling a short jumper at the buzzer to give Arizona a 68-66 win over Washington.

The UA’s jersey No. 10 is retired with Bibby’s name because of his consensus All-American status in 1997-98 and national freshman of the year honor in the season the Wildcats won the national title in 1996-97. But Brown’s contribution as the UA’s best pass-first point guard in history should not be overlooked.

Five times an Arizona guard has posted at least 15 assists in a game. Brown was that guard in each. He had a school-record 19 against Grand Canyon in 1979.

Bibby was an accomplished assist man too, amassing 374 in his two seasons. What set him apart is his basketball smarts, clutch shooting and defense. He holds the school record of 87 steals in a season despite not being fleet of foot. He knew the opponent’s next move because of his basketball IQ.

Brock Brunkhorst is another No. 10 who deserves mention. He was Lute Olson’s captain for the Arizona team that advanced to the coach’s first NCAA tournament team with the Wildcats in 1985. Brunkhorst led the UA in assists three consecutive seasons, including his senior season when he set up Kerr, Pete Williams and Eddie Smith with 5.2 assists per game.

Countdown to Tip-off Blogs:

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— Arizona Wildcats’ Aaron Gordon vying to become third freshman to win Pac-12 player of year
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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.

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