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Andy Wittry | | March 9, 2022

'Pistol' Pete Maravich: College basketball stats, best moments, quotes

1970 Naismith Winner: Pete Maravich

Pete Maravich is the leading scorer in NCAA Division I men's basketball history, putting him on the short list of individual great players in the sport's history. Maravich is responsible for the three highest individual scoring averages in the history of the sport and his career scoring average is almost 10 points higher than the second-highest average ever.

Here's everything you need to know about "Pistol Pete" Maravich's college career.

Pete Maravich's college stats and vitals

School: LSU
Position: Guard
Height: 6-5
Weight: 197 pounds
Years active: 1967-70
NCAA tournament record: 0-0
Career averages: 44.2 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, 5.1 assists per game, 43.8% shooting

1967-68 26 16.6 39.3 .423 7.5 4.0 43.8
1968-69 26 16.7 37.5 .444 6.5 4.9 44.2
1969-70 31 16.8 37.7 .447 5.3 6.2 44.5
Career 83 16.7 38.1 .438 6.4 5.1 44.2

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How many points did Pete Maravich average in college?

Maravich averaged just over 44 points per game, with his per-season averages slowly climbing from 43.8 points per game in 1968 to 44.2 in 1969 and peaking at 44.5 points per game in 1970. He was taking nearly 40 shots and roughly 14 free throws per game for his career.

He racked up 3,667 points in just three seasons of playing varsity at LSU.

What was Pete Maravich's record in college?

LSU went 49-35 in three seasons with Pete Maravich, capped off with a 22-10 season in 1969-70, when the Tigers went 13-5 in the SEC.

How did 'Pistol' Pete get his nickname?

"Pistol Pete" wasn't Maravich's only nickname. A story published in The Courier Journal in February 1967 noted that Maravich was referred to as "Houdini" around LSU's campus when he was a freshman.

The first reference we were able to find to "Pistol" Pete Maravich came in the Rocky Mount Telegram in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on Jan. 12, 1965, when he was a junior in high school. A screenshot of that newspaper is below.

The truth is "Pistol Pete" was quite a common nickname at the time.

There was a "Pistol Pete" in Ohio, New Jersey and another in California. A coach in Illinois was nicknamed Pistol Pete. There was a competitive horse in Iowa with the name, too, as well as a car salesman in Wisconsin. 

What kind of prospect was Pete Maravich in high school?

"Pete Maravich stands six feet, four inches tall and if you're looking for a small school's answer to Bobby Lewis, this is your boy," wrote Bill Rollins of The Daily Tar Heel in February 1966. "His build is rather spindly — 162 pounds are all he packs on his good-for-a-guard height." Maravich led the state in scoring at more than 32 points per game and his Southwood College (actually a prep school, not a college) team averaged roughly 101 points per game.

Southwood College, which once again was a prep school and not a college, actually competed against college freshman teams, since freshmen weren't allowed to play back then. Maravich's Southwood team lost to Duke's freshmen twice in 1965-66, for example.

A story published in The Charlotte News in February 1966 noted, "Poppa Press, Pete's father Press Maravich, who coached N.C. State at the time, "can't decide whether or not his son should play for him."

Ultimately, Press Maravich left N.C. State for LSU "in favor of the rebuilding job here," reported Sandy Padwe of the Newspaper Press Association during Pete Maravich's freshman year. "The program has been down," the older Maravich said. "There's no doubt about that. But we figure to come up — soon."

What was Pete Maravich's college game like?

A story published by the Newspaper Press Association during Maravich's freshman season noted the varsity coach's son averaged 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists per game for an undefeated LSU freshman team.

That's the product of a player who picked up the basketball at 6 years old and later attended summer camps that his basketball coach father ran with professional star Dolph Schayes. You can likely trace his basketball instincts to his upbringing on the hardwood.

Maravich had an advanced offensive game, especially when it came to the variety of shots he'd take. "He did it by using every shot in the book, some that aren't and some that haven't been used in years ... jump shots ... all sorts of layup moves ... hook shots ... even an old-fashioned set shot," wrote Billy Reed of The Courier Journal.

Highlights show that Maravich loved taking jumpers from the right wing. Way before the 3-point line was introduced to college basketball, Maravich was bombing away from long distance.

After a 42-point performance against Georgia, which brought down his season scoring average at the time, The Atlanta Constitution's Mickey McCarthy wrote, "Most of his bombardment came from way out and that's understating the case. He shot from everywhere, and just the pressure of his court presence was distracting to the Bulldogs." Maravich was also the game's leading rebounder with 11 boards, and he got to the foul line with regularity, making 14-of-17 free throws.

Maravich's remarkable passing ability earned him the nickname "Houdini," because "he passes like a (Bob) Cousy — behind the back, between his legs on fast breaks, all sorts of passes," Reed wrote. "If his teammates don't keep their minds on the game, they risk the humility of Maravich passes bouncing off their noggins."

The phrase "uncanny" was often used in newspaper stories at the time about Maravich's passing ability.

The 6-5 guard was quick and had "a knack for doing the proper thing," The Atlanta Constitution's Jesse Outlar wrote.

His double-digit rebounding totals were impressive for a player that Reed compared to the "'before' part of the muscle-building ads." Even if Maravich didn't look the part of a 3,600-point scorer, he was a one-man wrecking crew at times.

"LSU's offense is pretty simple," wrote George Smith of The Anniston Star, "throw the ball in to 'Pistol Pete,' he dribbles the length of the court, and bangs away."

What were some of Pete Maravich's best games?

As a freshman, Maravich scored 66 points in a game against the Baton Rouge Hawks and 50 in another. That happens when you average 43.6 points per game. There was one night he pulled down 22 rebounds.

Almost every time Maravich stepped on the floor, he had a chance to leave with one of the best games in his career.

He once scored 69 points against Alabama as a senior — one of the two times he made 26 shots in a game (also against Vanderbilt). There was a 66-point performance against Tulane, 64 against Kentucky and 61 versus Vanderbilt.

Those are the top four single-game scoring performances in LSU history. He holds seven of the program's top nine single-game marks, plus he's tied for 10th with 55 points in a game. LSU guard Chris Jackson reached 55 points on one occasion; Maravich did it six times.

The video below is from an LSU-Kentucky game, when Maravich scored 64 points and Kentucky's Dan Issel had 51, which set the record for the most combined points between two opponents in a game in NCAA history.

Maravich sank 30 free throws (out of 31) against Oregon State in December 1969.

It took him just 23 games to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career. For perspective, it took Shaq 52 games.

As a junior, Maravich notched a triple-double against Mississippi State with 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

What awards did Pete Maravich win in college?

Here are some of the awards Maravich won in college:

  • 1968 SEC Player of the Year
  • 1968 consensus First Team All-American
  • 1969 SEC Player of the Year
  • 1969 consensus First Team All-American
  • 1969 National Player of the Year
  • 1970 SEC Player of the Year
  • 1970 consensus First Team All-American
  • 1970 National Player of the Year

What records did Pete Maravich set in college and where does he rank among historical greats?

Here are some records that Pete Maravich set at LSU and where he ranks on all-time statistical lists:

  • First all-time on the NCAA DI men's basketball career scoring list: 3,667 points
  • First, fourth, fifth all-time in most points scored in a single season: 1,381, 1,148, 1,138 points
  • First, second, third all-time in scoring average in a season: 44.5, 44.2, 43.8 points per game
  • First all-time in career scoring average: 44.2 points per game
  • Led the country in scoring in 1968: 43.8 points per game
  • Led the country in scoring in 1969: 44.2 points per game
  • Led the country in scoring in 1970: 44.5 points per game
  • Contributed to the highest combined point total between two opposing players in a game: 115 points
  • Most games in a season with at least 50 points: 10 games
  • Most consecutive games with at least 50 points: three games
  • Most games in a career with at least 50 points: 28 games
  • Most games in a career with at least 40 points: 56 games
  • Most field goals in a season: 522 field goals
  • Most field goals in a career: 1,387 field goals
  • Most free throws in a three-year career: 893 free throws
  • First in LSU history in scoring, scoring average, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made
  • Tied for the most free throws in a game: 30 free throws
  • Second, tied for fourth, ninth, tied for 15th all-time in points scored against a DI opponent: 69, 66, 64, 61 points
  • Third all-time in free throws made in a season: 337 free throws
  • Third all-time in career free throws made: 893 free throws
  • Fourth in LSU history in career assist average: 5.12 assists per game

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What did people say about Pete Maravich?

Maravich's Southwood College coach Pete Meadows: "I feel that both Pete and (teammate) Dickie (Walker) are ready to play in the ACC. There aren't many boys around who are better for their size. Pete has become a complete player this year, and as he has improved in that respect, his shooting percentage, and even his scoring average, have also improved. He's tremendous from outside, and has some remarkable moves."

Former North Carolina opponent Dick Grubar: "Maravich is a good ballplayer. The secret is keeping the ball away from him, just like Coach Brown told me."

Sandy Padwe of the Newspaper Press Association: "The freshmen have been drawing as much as the varsity lately because a youngster named Pete Maravich is the best basketball prospect here since Bob Pettit ... Pete Maravich is not just another promising freshman basketball player. The 6-5, 165-pound ('he could use 20 more pounds,' his father says) guard has the ability to be one of the dominant names in the college game for the next four years."

His father and coach, Press Maravich: "He is a fine passer with a great knack of hitting the open man. I won't switch him to the frontcourt because I need his ball-handling ability at guard."

Press Maravich: "I don't see any problems arising because of the father-son relationship. He knows what he has to do and I know what I have to do. I've always wanted the chance to coach Pete."

Press Maravich: "He's got moves that Bill Bradley never heard of. This kid can do it all."

Press Maravich on if there was competition recruiting his son in high school: "Yes, there were several colleges interested in Pete. But I told him that he and I should go to LSU together and build up basketball there. Fortunately, he accepted my offer."

Billy Reed of The Courier Journal: "Before a game, Louisiana State phenomenal freshman, Pete Maravich, doesn't appear that wonderous. He is 6 foot 5, but skinny to the point of anemic-looking ... his mop of black hair simply won't stay in place ... and he doesn't even bother to tuck his jersey into his basketball pants. But, between the opening tipoff and the final buzzer, Maravich will impress you, even amaze you, because he can probably do more things better with a basketball than any college freshman you ever saw."

The Courier Journal's Reed: "And because of him, and him alone, basketball in Baton Rouge has become more than just another boring way to kill time between LSU football seasons. LSU's freshman team probably is attracting more fans at home this season than the varsity."

Jesse Outlar of The Atlanta Constitution: "Maravich is probably the first SEC player to make All-American before he played a varsity minute ... Picking Pete Maravich as an All-American is a simple chore once you have seen him."

United Press International: "Coming off a brilliant freshman year in which he averaged better than 43 points per game, Maravich was billed as the greatest scorer in college basketball history and proved to everyone that he was."

Pete Maravich quotes

Like many college basketball greats from decades ago, media access was relatively limited, which means it's very hard to find any quotes from college basketball's greatest scorer ever.

From The Courier Journal: "All the public sees of Pete, however, is what his dad wants it to see. LSU is giving Maravich the Lew Alcindor treatment. No interviews allowed. So to find out about Maravich, the player, you must talk to Maravich, the coach."

And The Charlotte News: "Papa Press Maravich, the LSU coach, had announced before the Vanderbilt game that he plans to put heavy restrictions on the future interviews press, radio and television are granted with his son. 'Pete's been subjected to so much press attention in the past few weeks that he's mentally haggered,' said Coach Maravich."

The game before, a loss to No. 10 Kentucky, Pete Maravich scored 54 points but told one reporter, "I was lousy."

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