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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Is Dan Issel’s scoring record UNBREAKABLE?

This guy should have been the scoring champ at UK.  No, seriously.


2,138 points.  That is gold standard for scoring in UK basketball history.  Dan Issel has held that record for 43 years now with only 2 players cracking 2,000 points since.  Overlooking the fact that Issel did that in 3 seasons without a 3-point shot (although that should NEVER be overlooked), you have to wonder if Issel’s scoring record will ever be touched.  I argue no for several reasons:


-Kenny Walker played 4 seasons, never missed a game, was in the Top 6 of the UK rotation every year, and started for 3 years.  And he only got within 58 points of Issel.  With an extra season of play.  Keith Bogans played and STARTED all 4 years, with a 3-point shot, played more games per season than Issel, and only got within 215 points of Issel.  Point is, it just requires an amazing amount of scoring to reach the record. 


-It seems counter to what we believe because the players are so much more athletic today than in the 1960’s, but the truth is there are fewer shots taken and lower scoring games now than during Issel’s time.  During Issel’s senior season (1969-70), his team averaged 96 POINTS PER GAME.  In UK’s national title season of 2012, a team that was fantastic on offense most of the season, the team averaged 77.3 points per game.  The fact is, teams just don’t get up and down the floor for 40 minutes the way they did in the late 60’s. 


-You give me 1 reason Issel’s record is safe forever, it’s this one.  As long as the NBA doesn’t require a player to stay 4 years in college, no player good enough to score enough points to beat Issel will ever stay 4 years.  Patrick Patterson actually had a legitimate shot to beat the record if he had stayed his senior year, but let’s not forget that never really was a possibility.  And in fact, Patterson strongly considered leaving after his sophomore season, so we got a bonus year anyway.  If Brandon Knight had stayed 3 years, and scored the same amount of points each season, he would have finished with 1,971 points.  So the point is not that a player couldn’t conceivably score enough in 4 years, it’s that no player is going to hang around for 4 years to do it. 

The guy that really had an amazing shot to beat the record was KEITH BOGANS.  As ridiculous as it sound, Bogans’s junior year ruined any chance he had to break the record.  But even with that disasterous year, Bogans finished 4th all-time in scoring at UK.  He scored 371 in that junior year, while scoring 577 in his sophomore and 564 his senior year.  If Bogans had replicated either of those scoring years in his junior season, he would have come within 10 points of Issel.  And I would imagine if Bogans was approaching that record his senior season, Tubby and the guys would have made sure he broke it.  Again, Keith Bogans should have been the scoring champ at UK.


That’s a post for another day.  Today, discuss whether you can envision Issel’s record ever being broken.  I say no, but tell me what you think.

Follow me on twitter @BryantheIntern.  Also, if you like the ramblings of Tony Vanetti, follow @mysports790

Article written by Bryan the Intern

43 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Is Dan Issel’s scoring record UNBREAKABLE?

  1. ashley shaffer
    9:06 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Welcome back..

  2. tom
    9:07 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Had no idea Issel’s jersey isn’t in the rafters at Rupp. By all means, it needs to be there. Can’t imagine why it isn’t…especially with that protector of public confidence, Richie Farmer’s, there.

  3. downcline
    9:07 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Tony Delk needs in the rafters first

  4. downcline
    9:09 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    #2, Issel is there.

  5. JiffyLubeGuy
    9:10 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Looking to help that fuel economy out? Shift into neutral at traffic lights. The transmission doesn’t care, and it makes life a bit easier for the engine. This technique reduces the amount of heat carried by the cooling system and can increase gas mileage a tick or two.

  6. bung
    9:10 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    nice post…also, Issel played with a couple of other great scorers on his team (Pratt and Casey) or he could have scored even more

  7. GummyBear
    9:10 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    2.. Of course Issel is up there. BTI was referring to Bogans when he said put him up there. And I agree with #3 that Delk should be there first, but Prince and Bogans should be right behind him.

  8. Smooth18
    9:15 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t think you added Keith’s points correctly. Adding his 3 years, and even replicating his Soph or Senior year is still only like 1,718… was he 10 points from Dan?

  9. Good Ol Ly Boy
    9:19 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I think it can be broken and this is how it can be broken. It’s gonna take a kid from the state who absolutely loves UK basketball. This kid is going to be uber talented and he is going to stay for 4 years. That’s how it’s going to be broken. Now, when it will be broken, that’s a different question.

  10. [email protected]
    9:24 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Issle is the scoring leader, and that is a record which will not be broken period. That does not mean he is the best player of all time, but he was great, and his accomplishment should be recognized. His duration in the NBA shows the kind of player he was……perhaps the best NBA career of any former cat.

  11. OkolonasFinest
    9:27 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Should Prince be in the rafters at Rupp as well? I believe he should.

  12. AylortheImpaler
    9:28 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I agree. It would be really hard to break Issel’s record.

  13. NineWillBeFine
    9:32 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Agree with BTI, the record is practically unbreakable. Bogans jersey definitely needs to be in the rafters, he’s one of the best and one of my personal favorite players from the Tubby era. It’s an absolute tragedy that he never got to make a final 4

  14. opti
    9:36 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Had Issel been able to play his freshman year (Frosh were ineligible when he played) we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Issel was a great player with fabulous moves in the lane and one of the fastest first steps to the basket I’ve ever seen.

  15. Rockfield, KY
    9:40 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    14. You’re right. I watched some ABA clips on Youtube and when Issel would draw his man away from the basket, he’d blow right by him. Also, he would fly up and down the court in the transition game and get a lot of buckets there. Unfortunately, I was too you to get to see him play in person.

  16. Michael F. Jox
    9:41 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    #14 – “one of the fastest first steps to the basket I’ve ever seen”

    Really? You do mean for his time, right? Or maybe you just don’t watch much basketball anymore, cause I’m willing to guess that pretty much every great college player now has a quicker first step than Dan ever did.

  17. bung
    9:43 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    what if Issel had played in 38 games a season instead of just 28 games a season…he was awesome…

  18. H.A. Milton
    9:47 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t see it happening because, other than the reason’s stated, the model of one superstar taking over the game and making a team successful is gone. Today you need several guys that can get it done(see Miami Heat, or 11-12 UK), so there isn’t the same opportunity for one guy…Ask Anthony Davis, I heard he took the fourth most shots on the team the year they won it all.

  19. JackB
    9:51 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    It is possible only in this sense – it will have to be an un-athletic scorer who is never projected as an NBA first rounder or is a marginal first rounder his junior season and stays anyway. Perhaps a Wiltjer/Hansboro combo who can put up 17 ppg for a 4 year career on teams that make deep runs in the tourney. In other words, not very likely.

  20. c'mon dude
    9:53 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    8- please read the article then slap yourself in the face

  21. kentuckyjoe
    10:01 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    For all the reasons you cite Issel’s record will stand forever. It’s like DiMaggio’s hitting streak. Or Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak. That baby is gonna be there for a long time.

  22. Blue
    10:07 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    The discrepancy in scoring has a lot more to do with the physicality of the game than anything else. Back then, defenders literally could not touch an offensive player. The game was designed to be high scoring, and it should be that way now. The problem is, “incidental contact” has taken over the game, and beating guys up has become almost commonplace. If folks want scoring to increase again, they will have to take the physical play out of the game…which isn’t going to happen.

  23. BIG BIUE
    10:16 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I am sorry I thought the record had been broken. He is not the leader at UK.

  24. tom
    10:18 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    4 and 7 – Thanks for the information. I couldn’t imagine Issel not being there. Appreciate the clarification!

  25. UKBlue1!
    10:19 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    There are several players that deserve the honor before Bogan’s. T.Jones, D Lamb and A. Davis are recent. Tony Delk should be the first to get this honor and it’s WAY over due.

  26. WTF
    10:24 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    25 – you can’t be serious; Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb before KEITH BOGANS? Are you 20 years old or younger?

  27. Cat Fan in Georgia
    10:25 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    25 – I disagree. No “one-and-done” player, no matter how good, should have his jersey hung in Rupp. And Jones/Lamb, while good players and contributors to NC #8 —seriously??

  28. ThatsAShame
    10:26 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    25. You think Lamb should be in rafters? Really?

  29. ThatsAShame
    10:28 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    27. I think a one and done could make the rafters. AD is a prime example. If POY and a NC doesn’t get you there what will? How many years does a player need to stay 2, 3? Just asking.

  30. hah
    10:38 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    27- See Carmelo Anthony.. I know this is Kentucky but to say Davis doesnt deserve it is stupid.. he was NC swept all POY awards, won an olympic gold medal and is banging one of those smokin hot twins from kansas (the latter should get him in the rafters on its own)

  31. bung
    10:59 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Issel…Hall of fame…ABA Champs…NBA all star…27,482 points in pro basketball…

  32. You know it
    11:02 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I could actually see AD getting his jersey up there but not Lamb or TJ. And none of them before Bogans and he should be after Delk.

  33. No Stinkin 38-40 Games!
    11:12 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    No Stinkin 38-40 Games back in Issel’s day !! All time frames for records are relative; NO 3 point shot, NO shot clock, limited schedule of games. What Issel did in his time, surrounded by the players he played with, and the other reasons I’ve given, his record is untouchable. If Issel played today with a clock, 40 games, a 3 point shot, AND playing 4 years, his scoring record would never be a part of any conversation.

  34. chief_cat
    11:43 am May 29, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t see this record ever being beaten either. Not unless rules change drastically and redefine the collegiate athlete. I suppose if the game changes drastically (shorter shot clock, NBA continuation rule, etc) the shooter would get more opportunities to score, but as long as players leave early, I doubt it will be broken.

    I concur with the notion that Bogans’ jersey needs to be in the rafters along with Delk, Prince, and Tubby.

  35. BigDanBigFraud
    12:17 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    ’tis already been broken, by V. Still……Issel THE most over-rated player in UK history
    ZERO final four trips during his tenure — enuf said!!!
    (& a well-documented racist w/his anti-hispanic outburst many yrs ago)

  36. Legg O
    1:22 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    FYI- in order to have your jersey in the rafters you have to a grad, SEC rules. @35 your an IDIOT!

  37. Will Hill
    1:34 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    It “could” be broken, but it’s a longshot. For one thing, keep in mind that if Bogans had matched his sophomore production his junior year, he probably would have gone pro that year.

    There is a much bigger emphasis on defense now (and, as others have mentioned, it’s a very physical style of defense).

    It is possible, though, that a Keith Bogans/Tayshaun Prince/Jodie Meeks type, a high-scorer but for whatever reason is a lower draft prospect, might stick around for 4 years and break it. Probably not in the Calipari era.

    As for the rafters, Tony Delk, Tubby Smith, Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, and Anthony Davis should all have their jerseys retired.

  38. jd
    1:37 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Issel scored 948 points in his senior season. Only one player is close, Meeks nearly 100 points less, and he needed 8 more games.

  39. jd
    1:38 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Anyone who doesn’t think Dan could star today is on illegal drugs. Go to Youtube and look him up.

  40. Philuk18
    1:43 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink


    You are clearly not a UK fan and are a horrible person and basketball fan. Everyone hates you

  41. JR
    1:53 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    Put them in based on order in which they played. Delk, Prince, Bogans. I can’t say anyone other than maybe Hayes deserves to be in. Maybe 10 years or so when 1 & dones have been the norm for a long time you can consider Anthony Davis. But until that is cemented as the way it’s going to be for a long time, don’t put in a 1 & done.

  42. catdaddyd
    10:56 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    The first step is faster now, because, they let you carry the ball, and also travel as a bonus. When is calling someone a piece of sh*t racist?

  43. fireants25
    11:49 pm May 29, 2013 Permalink

    you think Issel’s is unbreakable haha try looking at Pistol Pete, who I think only played varsity for 3 years (freshman couldnt at the time) ad didnt have a 3 point line and was only about 1500 points ahead of Dan…which is unreal to think about. His last year in the NBA the 3 point line came about and he hit just 67% and retired bc of injury