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augolf1716

60 points! John Mengelt remembers Auburn record, 50 years later

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I was at the game when John hit 60 I didn't even realize it until later that he had 60 points. The games between John and Pistol Pete were something to behold. 

 

AUBURN, Ala. – The way the game started, John Mengelt never would have guessed he’d finish with the highest-scoring performance in Auburn history.

“I’m going to surprise you,” he said. “I think I missed five out of my first six shots.”

Valentine’s Day, 1970. Auburn vs. Alabama. Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, then in its second season as the Tigers’ home venue, seated 12,500.

Mengelt, then a junior, shot 23 of 38 (60.5%) from the field and was 14-for-15 (93.3%) from the free-throw line. Sixty points. 

“Only missed one free throw, because my father didn’t like me missing free throws,” he said.

Mengelt’s 60-point outburst is 12 more points than Auburn’s next-highest individual total, a mark he also holds. In fact, Mengelt produced Auburn’s four highest-scoring games (60, 48, 47 and 45), and seven of the top 10. All in era that predated the 3-point line.

“The one thing I remember about the game is I had a lot of 3-pointers, but we didn’t have a 3-point line. I got fouled a lot,” he said. “For scoring that many points, I’m not sure I shot the ball that well that night. I just shot it a lot, probably.”

John Mengelt

Had there been a 3-point line on the magical night, Mengelt estimates he would have come closer to 70.

“If it was last year’s line, it would have probably been seven or eight [3-pointers],” he said.

But with no extra-point incentive to launch from afar, 22-foot shots were discouraged.

“If you took a shot from this year’s 3-point line, that was a bad shot,” Mengelt said. “If you didn’t hit it, nobody liked you. Teammates didn’t like you, coaches didn’t like you.”

Seated in the Joey Pierson Courtside Lounge at Auburn Arena, Mengelt turned back the clock 50 years, reminiscing about a game in which he nearly outscored Alabama by himself in Auburn’s 121-78 win.

“Everybody was excited more so, I think, because we beat Alabama by about 50 points, than the 60,” he said. “We had 8,000 or 9,000 people at the game, it just didn’t seem like it. I think that night it was probably full, because it’s Alabama. With 12,500 people in there, it gets loud.

“It was not as loud as this place. This place is special. You can’t even hear yourself.” 

 

Two of those in attendance were John’s parents, who drove 13 hours from Elwood, Indiana.

“My mom and dad were here with their best friends,” he said. “They couldn’t come down here very much so they picked the right game.” 

Growing up in the Hoosier State, Mengelt loved basketball, but it was his football prowess that attracted the most attention from colleges.

“I was a slow, 6-foot-2 forward in high school,” he said. “To play guard, I had to make some kind of transition. From major colleges, I might have had seven or eight legitimate offers. Nobody in the Big Ten offered me. I had many more football offers than basketball.” 

He visited Auburn in the winter of his senior year of high school.

“I came down here and I left a blizzard at the end of February, and I got down here and it was 70 degrees,” he said. “I came from a really small town. This was a small town, too. A little bit bigger than where I came from.

“I do things by my gut and it just felt like the right place. And it was. It was the perfect place for me, and the perfect time to be there. I never looked back.” 

At Auburn, John met his wife, Linda. They’ve been married 48 years.

After graduation, he played a decade in the NBA before founding a management consulting firm that matched more than 1,000 executives with corporations and universities. 

 
 
 
 
 

Advice from his dad served John well throughout his business career.

“I grew up in “Happy Days,” he said, referring to a hit 1970s TV show. “My father owned an A&W [root beer stand] in town. I was on a cash register at 10.

“My father always said, ‘If you treat people right, you don’t have to chase money. It’ll chase you.’”

After John’s NBA days, the Mengelts settled in the Chicago suburbs, where Michael Jordan was their neighbor. In retirement, they’ve recently moved back to Auburn, completing a journey that began a half-century ago.

“I felt like this was home even before I lived here,” he said. “I don’t think I ever left.” 

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer

 
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great article. I remember seeing him his senior year, just before I started at Auburn in 1971. He was so good with his shot. Amazing that a player from Indiana turned into such a great SEC basketball player. 

Glad to hear he has retired to here. It seems to be contagious with players/coaches.

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My wife knew him pretty well at Auburn. I remember going to preseason game at Samford. He recognized my wife during pre-game warmups and came over to say hi.  She introduced us.  He seemed like a really good guy.  John had a nice pro career and broadcasting after that.  Did not know he was back in Auburn.

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I was at that game and all the games he played in or close to all at Auburn. He had a sweet effortless stroke. Practices were open then and we would go and watch sometimes. He was a great player and I saw him on campus a few times and he would always say hi if you said hi. 

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I was there too. 13 years old with my dad and we had an awesome time. 60 with no treys. I think he was pulled from the game and re-inserted for one shot to make it to 60. Took about 4 seconds. Great memories. War Eagle and obliterate Bammer again tonight!!!

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I was a student at Auburn then as well, and attended every home game. Mengelt was not only a good shooter (he averaged more than 28 points per game), he also definitely knew how to take a charge. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly, LSU scored over 100 points and won that game.

 

Edited by AURex

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You would think with the 3 point line there would have been others to have scored 50+ points...but it seemed that during John's time, there was Pistol and Johnny Neuman at Ole Miss who frequently scored 30-40 points a game.....

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My father in law Mike Christian played with Mengelt during his time.  Not sure if you all remember him or not.  

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I was there. That 121 to 78 beatdown of UAT was a thing of beauty. Auburn's Al Leapheart (How's that for a basketball name) got, IIRC, 19 points and 22 rebounds.

Jump shot aside, Mengelt is still the best we've ever had at taking his defender to the basket for the layup and the foul.

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15 minutes ago, fishepa said:

My father in law Mike Christian played with Mengelt during his time.  Not sure if you all remember him or not.  

I remember Mike Christian. White-haired guard, he was a good one too.

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2 hours ago, fishepa said:

My father in law Mike Christian played with Mengelt during his time.  Not sure if you all remember him or not.  

Didn't he come from either Illinois or Indiana too? I remember him also. 

I am trying to remember, didn't Mike have a brother who was a football player(maybe named Tim?), who signed w/ Auburn too, and his claim to fame was he could throw a football with either hand?

Or am I thinking of another football player's brother? I am getting old...:)

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16 minutes ago, steeleagle said:

Didn't he come from either Illinois or Indiana too? I remember him also. 

I am trying to remember, didn't Mike have a brother who was a football player(maybe named Tim?), who signed w/ Auburn too, and his claim to fame was he could throw a football with either hand?

Or am I thinking of another football player's brother? I am getting old...:)

Danville, IL.  Your memory is very good!  His brother was Rick, he was indeed ambidextrous throwing the ball.  He ended up at Wisconsin.

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6 hours ago, fishepa said:

Danville, IL.  Your memory is very good!  His brother was Rick, he was indeed ambidextrous throwing the ball.  He ended up at Wisconsin.

Damn I remember Rick because he was known for being ambidextrous and I was amazed at that

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I didn't go to the game but listened to it on the radio with my dad who was a high school basketball coach. My dad just kept shaking his head and saying "I can't believe that rascal!" every time John scored again. Everybody who did something great like that was a rascal to my dad. I seem to remember that John had the flu that night though he didn't mention it in the article. I think I remember the announcer (Gary Sanders maybe?) saying John almost didn't play. Anybody else recall that?

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On 2/13/2020 at 5:44 PM, augolf1716 said:

Damn I remember Rick because he was known for being ambidextrous and I was amazed at that

I played with Rick during his freshman year....didn't stay around very long...I do remember he made a nice TD pass against UF during his freshman season....he threw mostly with his right arm; rarely did he use his other arm....his right was his stronger arm....back then we had a lot of QB's on scolly (Randy W., Wade W., Clyde B., along with 2 other freshman on scholarship)...I think Clyde was the only QB the same year Rick signed that completed his years, the others all left....fall of 1972, along time ago, sometimes I don't recall all events correctly.. 

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33 minutes ago, tigerman1186 said:

I played with Rick during his freshman year....didn't stay around very long...I do remember he made a nice TD pass against UF during his freshman season....he threw mostly with his right arm; rarely did he use his other arm....his right was his stronger arm....back then we had a lot of QB's on scolly (Randy W., Wade W., Clyde B., along with 2 other freshman on scholarship)...I think Clyde was the only QB the same year Rick signed that completed his years, the others all left....fall of 1972, along time ago, sometimes I don't recall all events correctly.. 

Your correct I knew all the QB's you mention. Randy and I played alot of golf together

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