Shocker Summer: Antoine Carr saves his best for last

08/05/2014 9:00 AM

07/30/2014 3:31 PM

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in The Eagle on March 6, 1983.

Antoine Carr was toddling around in diapers 20 years ago when a man named Dave Stallworth was the “Rave” of Wichita State basketball.

On Feb. 16, 1963, Stallworth scored 46 points in a game against Cincinnati. It was a school record that some said never would be broken.

Ron Harris came close with 45 points, and Al Tate once scored 40. But it wasn’t until March 5, 1983, that Stallworth’s mark fell.

And it was the boy in diapers, who had grown into a huge man standing 6-foot-9, that did it. In his last game as a Wichita State Shocker Saturday night, Antoine Carr scored 47 points as WSU blasted Southern Illinois, 109-83, in Henry Levitt Arena.

“I thought he’d have a good night, but 47 points! Man,” marveled WSU guard Aubrey Sherrod, who scored 22 himself as the Shockers moved their final record to 25-3. “He deserved it. He’s done it for four years. He brought the program on the rise … he deserved it.”

Carr set or tied three other records during the game. When he scored his 44th point, it moved him past Cheese Johnson as the Shockers’ No. 3 career scorer, behind Cleo Littleton and Stallworth. Carr finished his memorable four seasons with 1,911 points.

Carr’s 21 field goals bested by one the number of baskets Stallworth made against Loyola of Chicago on Jan. 29, 1965, when he scored 45 points. Carr’s 36 field-goal attempts tied the number attempted by Stallworth against Arizona State on Dec. 7, 1963, when he scored 43 points.

It took some real maneuvering by WSU Coach Gene Smithson to get Carr the record. Carr made a layup with 2:09 remaining in the game for his 45th point, but couldn’t get his hands on the ball again.

With 25 seconds remaining, Smithson took Carr out of the game when WSU took a timeout. Not realizing that Carr was a point short of Stallworth’s record, Smithson sent in reserve Kevin Pierce, a wide receiver on the football team who walked on to the basketball squad.

Word was quickly sent to Smithson that Carr needed another basket. Smithson called a second timeout and tried to get Carr back into the game, but officials wouldn’t let him check in because play hadn’t resumed.

So, after Pierce inbounded the ball to Zarko Durisic, the Shockers took a third timeout with 23 seconds showing.

“We knew he had passed one record (Johnson’s career mark),” Smithson explained. “But we didn’t know about the other record. We had to manipulate things to get him back in. Fortunately, (SIU Coach) Allen Van Winkle was very understanding of that. He was a tremendous gentleman. He said he understood completely.”

Pierce, who played only 5 1/2 minutes all season and didn’t score a point, was credited with the assist on Carr’s record-breaking basket. Underneath the basket, Pierce found an opening and passed the ball to Carr, who drove across the lane and downed a spinning layup for his 47th point with 21 seconds left in the game.

Eleven seconds later, when SIU’s Ken Byrd was fouled to stop the clock, the Antoine Carr era came to a close. He left the game to a rousing standing ovation and, minutes after the game, was honored as his jersey, No. 35, was retired. Stallworth, who wore No. 42, is the only other player to have had his Wichita State jersey retired.

In Carr’s career, WSU compiled a record of 91-28, won two Missouri Valley Conference championships, and made appearances in the NCAA Tournament and National Invitation Tournament. This season’s club finished with the best winning percentage – .893 – in school history.

All that was not lost on Smithson, who credited Carr with putting WSU basketball back on the map.

“Antoine Carr was the catalyst four years ago for us to construct a nationally prominent basketball program,” Smithson said. “By him coming here, staying home, it attracted so many other fine basketball players. He has to be credited with really paving the way for us to bring this program to where it is today.”

Carr said he started thinking about the record when he got word that he had 39 points. “Thankfully, Coach let me go ahead and achieve it,” Carr said, with a good-natured poke at Smithson about the confusion near the end of the game. “I appreciate it.”

“Hey, that’s the least I could do for that guy, isn’t it?” Smithson replied with a laugh.

Carr was managing a big smile during a mass interview, but minutes earlier during the jersey ceremony, he showed the emotion of the moment and shed some tears.

“If you’ve ever had the feeling that you didn’t want to leave something, that was the feeling I had at that time,” he said. “I’ve had a great time here. I enjoyed working with Coach Smithson and his staff and all the basketball players I worked with over the last four years.

“I’m happy, but on the other side of it I’m sad because I really don’t want to leave because people have been so good to me.”

Carr wasn’t the only person feeling sad about him leaving.

“I feel said, extremely sad,” Smithson said. “But on the other hand, I’m extremely happy. Antoine has given me, the university and this community every ounce of his effort.

“It was very fitting for him to have his jersey retired, not only because of his tremendous career, but because of his loyalty to this university.”

Carr, who turned down the chance to turn professional last year, closed out his night by thanking his teammates.

“This team that they have now will go on to be as good as any team in the nation, that’s without a doubt,” he said. “Xavier (McDaniel, a sophomore forward) is one of the greatest rebounders I’ve ever seen in my life and Aubrey Sherrod is just uncanny with his shooting. The rest of the fellows just work so hard … they’re a great unit. I’d just like to salute them on the great season they had and, hopefully, they’ll keep going the way they’ve been going.”

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