The Los Angeles media could hardly believe what had happened, and many others who read their accounts did not either, it did not help either that Los Angeles State came out and discredited the record as not being a true competitive record. Still, the media hype had bolstered Barber into a local sensation and got the attention of professional scouts.
John Barber the man who scored 188 points in a basketball game|
Basketball fans are well versed in two of the most legendary games in NBA history: Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game vs the Knicks and Kobe Bryant's 81 point game vs the Raptors. Both games are legendary, but in the grand spectrum of high scoring games both come up short. in fact, Bryant's 81 point game does not even crack the top 25 of highest scoring games, all 25 games are games where a player scored over 100 points, and Chamberlain's game comes in near the bottom.
On February 16, 1953 the granddaddy of all super scoring games occurred when Los Angeles State took on Chapman Community College. Barber scored an astronomical 188 points, as the result of an "experiment" concocted by his coach, Sax Elliot, to debunk the notion of "Bevo" Francis as a "Superman" of the courts.
Rio Grande's Clearence "Bevo" Francis was a scoring machine and was attracting a lot of national attention. He scored 116 points earlier in the season against Ashland Junior College and was averaging over 50 points a game. Los Angeles States John Barber was a scoring machine himself having already dropped 103 against Los Angeles Community College.
Bevo Francis was seen by the Los Angeles State coach as somewhat of a fraud. He had scored huge numbers against lower caliber teams; mostly against junior colleges, service teams and vocational schools. Of the 39 games played by Rio Grande that year, 27 of them where against such schools. In the few games against equal or greater competition Francis had struggled.
Barber came into the match average 22 points a game, and was considered one of the greatest pure athletes in the country. At 6-foot-6-inches Barber had been able to clear his own height of 6-foot-6-inches in the high jump despite no formal training.
Barber's 103 point game came against Los Angeles Community College. Los Angeles States coach Sax Elliott had Barber do nothing but score in the game. Barber stood under the basket and his teammates fed him the ball.
Today many west coast teams complain about the perceived east coast bias from the media. The eastern seaboard having more people and more teams see a lot more coverage of their teams, and with the four hour time zone difference between New York and Los Angeles, and 8 PM start time in the Pacific Time Zone is a midnight start time in the Eastern Time Zone. This leads to eastern players and teams getting a lot more coverage and fanfare because they play during prime time for millions more people, who are usually asleep before the west coast games start. This was something that was on the mind of Sax Elliott, and why Francis was getting so much press. Elliott wanted to show the country just how good the west coast teams and players were.
Los Angeles State used the same tactic against Chapman as they had against Los Angeles Community College-they left Barber under the hoop to score at will and to score at will is what he did. Barber had 100 points at half time and added 88 more in the second half.
Barber broke the previous record held of 156 held by Mary Boyd midway through the second half, though nobody knew that was the record. His 188 points are more points that Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant scored combined. Barber also became the first player to score over 100 points in a game twice.
Two of John Barber's grandsons would also get a shot at the NBA. Jason and Jaryl Sasser both played sparingly in the NBA in the early 2000s. Like their grandfather they did not last very long, but both played more games then their grandfather.
The Los Angeles media challenged Barber to another game to see if he could score 100 points a game, and he did. He dropped 150 on the hapless scribes and became to the only player to score 100 or more points in 3 competitively recognized games and also the only one to score 100 plus points in three consecutive games.
Bevo Francis would have another 100 point game himself, scoring 113 against Hillsdale college. Francis and Barber are the only two known players to have multiple accredited 100 point games.
The feats of Francis and Barber caused a sudden rule change with the NCAA. The committee passed new rules, called "Anti-Bevo Legislation" at the time, that that only games between varsity teams of four-year, degree-granting colleges would be recognized as collegiate contests. This for a time dropped all of Francis's and Barbers records from the record book, though in recent years they have been added back with an asterixis. Though, Francis's 113 point game against Hillsdale was kept on the record books.
The notoriety from the game helped Barber after college, he would go on the play in 5 games for the St Louis Hawks. But the racism of the era and in particularly St Louis left a nasty taste in Barbers mouth and he went on to play for the Goose Tatum's Harlem All-Stars. Barber would also play in the ABL with both the Harlem Clowns and the Los Angeles Jets.
Francis and several of his Rio Grande teammates joined the Boston Whirlwinds for a short time before he too returned to a more normal life.
Both Francis and Barber would be drafted by the NBA. Barber would get drafted twice, once by the Baltimore Bullets in 1954 and again by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1956. The Bullets disbanded and his rights where taken by the Milwaukee Hawks. Francis would get drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors but would never play a game in the NBA.
Both players have since faded off to obscurity with their records only a notation in the NCAA rule book. Francis died of cancer in 2015, two years after his one standing record, the 113 point game, was broken by Grinnell's Jack Taylor.