Basketball Offseason Archives: "Bad News" Puts Up 51 Points/36 Rebounds
April 18, 2012
Steve Tredennick remembers a lot about Texas Western College's record-setting 1963-64 season. In particular, he recalls an early season victory at fifth-ranked Wichita State that ignited a 16-game winning streak. The Miners would go on to post 25 victories, a school standard at the time, and make back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history.
Tredennick, a junior guard on that squad, also has vivid recollections of TWC's three NCAA Tournament games. The field was only composed of 25 teams at the time. The Miners beat Texas A&M (68-62) and lost to Kansas State (64-60) before knocking off Creighton (63-52) in the Midwest Region third-place game.
What Tredennick doesn't remember, however, is All-American Jim Barnes exploding for 51 points and 36 rebounds in a 100-56 thumping of Western New Mexico on Jan. 4, 1964.
Maybe it's because Barnes had otherworldly performances pretty much every night in a Texas Western uniform. He averaged an astounding 29.2 points and 19.2 rebounds as a senior before being selected by New York with the first pick in the 1964 NBA Draft.
"At 6-8, 230 pounds or whatever he was, he could literally outrun any of us," Tredennick said. "He was extraordinarily quick. Physically he was an interesting guy because he was tall and heavy, but all of his weight for the most part was concentrated in his shoulders, arms and trunk. His legs weren't skinny but comparatively smaller, and that's where his quickness came from."
On Jan. 4, 1964, "Bad News" Barnes made 19-of-30 shots from the field and 13-of-22 free throws. He scored 28 points in the first half and 23 in the second.
Almost 50 years later, he still holds UTEP single-game records for points, rebounds and field goals made. He concluded his career with 48 double-doubles, also tops in the Miner record book.
"He was probably the same size then as LeBron James is now, but he looked like a giant out there when we were playing," Tredennick said. "Usually the other team had a big man, but he wasn't that good. We ran into the Luke Jacksons and the Paul Silases, but they were few and far between."
As good as Barnes was on the court, Tredennick said he was equally as great of a guy off of it.
"He had a fantastic disposition," Tredennick said. "He was a gentle guy, but competitive. He was a great leader. He had the ability to corral all of us and keep us focused on what we needed to do."
Injuries derailed a promising NBA career, although Barnes was named to the All-Rookie team in 1965. He played seven seasons in the league. In his later years, Barnes ran a barbecue sauce business before suffering a stroke and passing away in September of 2002.
"He was a wonderful friend and a wonderful teammate," Tredennick said. "Sometimes when you're as talented as Jim in relation to whoever is around you, you can be difficult to live with. He wasn't like that. He was a super guy.
"I'm sure if they kept assists [in 1964], I would've had a decent number. We had a rule, if you threw it into Barnes and he threw it back out to you, then you had the green light to shoot."