Where Does Ryan Cline’s 3-Point Shooting Performance Rank All-Time?

Purdue advanced to the Elite Eight Thursday night for the first time since 2000 as the No. 3 seeded Boilermakers defeated No. 2 seed Tennessee 99-94 in overtime.

They wouldn’t be one of the 12 teams still alive in the tournament were it not for senior guard Ryan Cline scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting with seven 3-pointers.

At risk of over-embracing and inflating an incredible individual performance amid an NCAA Tournament that has seemingly been devoid of the usual amount of entertaining, wire-to-wire games, Cline’s shooting display won’t only be one of the most memorable moments from the 2019 NCAA Tournament but one that might be deservingly remembered as historically great.

In case you missed his performance in realtime or want to watch it again, here you go.

While we can’t predict the future in regards to how far Purdue’s tournament run will go or for how long Cline’s highlights from Thursday night will be replayed, we can attempt to provide context for where Cline’s Sweet 16 showing might stack up historically.

[RELATED: 2019 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Schedule, Dates, Times]

There have only been 18 players since 2011 who have made at least seven 3-pointers in an NCAA Tournament game, with Cline being the most recent, according to Sports Reference’s Player Game Finder tool that dates back to the 2010-11 season.

While the Sweet 16 is only halfway over, nine of those 18 performances have come this year, most notably Cline’s teammate Carsen Edwards scoring 42 points against Villanova on 9-of-16 shooting from 3-point range in the second round.

Here are the 18 players who have made at least seven 3-pointers in an NCAA Tournament game since 2011, listed in descending order in terms of points scored.

Player School Date Round Points 3PM 3PA Scoring Avg.
Carsen Edwards Purdue March 23, 2019 Second Round 42 9 16 23.8
Buddy Hield Oklahoma March 26, 2016 Elite Eight 37 8 13 25.0
Dylan Windler Belmont March 21, 2019 First Round 35 7 14 21.3
Jimmer Fredette BYU March 19, 2011 Second Round 34 7 12 28.9
Darnell Edge Fairleigh Dickinson March 19, 2019 First Four 33 7 9 16.6
Jordan Burns Colgate March 22, 2019 First Round 32 8 13 16.3
Shelvin Mack Butler March 19, 2011 Second Round 30 7 12 16.0
Bronson Koenig Wisconsin March 16, 2017 First Round 28 8 17 14.5
Ryan Cline Purdue March 28, 2019 Sweet 16 27 7 10 12.1
Bradley Heslip Baylor March 17, 2012 Second Round 27 9 12 10.2
Bryce Alford UCLA March 19, 2015 First Round 27 9 11 15.4
Rickey McGill Iona March 22, 2019 First Round 26 7 9 15.8
Corey Davis Jr. Houston March 22, 2019 First Round 26 7 17 17.1
David Lighty Ohio State March 20, 2011 Second Round 25 7 7 12.1
Bryce Brown Auburn March 23, 2019 Second Round 25 7 11 15.9
Fletcher Magee Wofford March 21, 2019 First Round 24 7 12 20.3
Quinn Cook Duke March 21, 2014 First Round 23 7 10 11.6
Will Miller Mount St. Mary’s March 18, 2014 First Four 21 7 12 5.6


For each single-game performance, Sports Reference provides a game score to “give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game.” A 40 is given for an “outstanding performance” and a 10 indicates an average performance, according to Sports Reference.

Edwards’ 42 points earned a 29.8 game score, which was the highest of the 18 players who have made at least seven threes in an NCAA Tournament game since 2011, and Cline’s performance Thursday ranks fifth among the 18 with a game score of 24.3.

Edwards’ nine 3-pointers against Villanova is tied for fourth all-time for a single NCAA Tournament game behind Loyola Marymount’s Jeff Fryer (11), UNLV’s Freddie Banks (10) and Michigan’s Garde Thompson (10), according to the NCAA Tournament record book.

Edwards is one of eight players who have made nine threes in a tournament game and 25 players have made eight 3-pointers.

It’s safe to say that Edwards’ 42 points was a more impressive statistical achievement than Cline’s 27 but there’s something special about a role player significantly exceeding his typical levels of production in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, forcing overtime against (and eventually beating) a lower-seeded team.

Those are important considerations when looking for historical comparisons and reference points for Cline’s game, as are the outcome (did his team win or not?) and how many 3-point attempts it took (did it take 17 attempts to make seven 3-pointers or only nine?).

Listed below are the 11 players who have made at least nine 3-pointers in an NCAA Tournament game. Six of those games were in the first round and 10 were in the first weekend, which makes the lasting impact of these performances less than if the same players had the same 3-point shooting success in the Elite Eight or Final Four.

How often do you hear college basketball fans talking about Bryce Alford’s game against SMU or Johnny Hemsley’s performance against Lafayette?

Point proven.

Player School Year Round Outcome 3PM 3PA Points Season Scoring Average
Jeff Fryer Loyola Marymount 1990 Second Round Won 149-115 11 15 41 22.7
Freddie Banks UNLV 1987 Final Four Lost 97-93 10 19 38 19.5
Roburt Sallie Memphis 2009 First Round Won 81-70 10 15 35 5.8
Garde Thompson Michigan 1987 First Round Won 97-82 9 12 33 14.5
Johnny Miller Temple 1995 First Round Lost 77-71 9 17 30 11.0
Johnny Hemsley Miami (FL) 1999 First Round Won 75-54 9 12 31 17.8
Ricky Paulding Missouri 2003 Second Round Lost 101-92 9 15 36 17.4
Gerry McNamara Syracuse 2004 First Round Won 80-75 9 13 43 17.2
Brady Heslip Baylor 2012 Second Round Won 80-63 9 12 27 10.2
Bryce Alford UCLA 2015 First Round Won 60-59 9 11 27 15.4
Carsen Edwards Purdue 2019 Second Round Won 87-61 9 16 42 23.8


As previously stated, accuracy is an important part of the discussion. If Cline made seven 3-pointers but needed 18 tries, then his performance wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive. The fact that he was 7-of-10 and 6-of-7 in the second half made his shooting all the more special.

Here are the NCAA Tournament record-holders for single-game 3-point percentage (minimum six 3-pointers made).

Player School Year Round Outcome 3PM 3PA Points Season Scoring Average
John Goldsberry UNC-Wilmington 2003 First Round Lost 75-73 8 8 26 4.9
Sam Cassell Florida State 1993 Second Round Won 94-63 7 7 31 18.3
David Lighty Ohio State 2011 Second Round Won 98-66 7 7 25 12.1
Mike Buck Middle Tennessee 1989 First Round Won 97-83 6 6 26 6.1
Migjen Bakalli NC State 1991 First Round Won 114-85 6 6 18 5.8
Rex Walters Kansas 1993 First Round Won 94-72 6 6 23 15.3
Tay Fisher Siena 2008 First Round Won 83-62 6 6 19 8.0
Nik Stauskas Michigan 2013 Elite Eight Won 79-59 6 6 22 11.0


Ultimately, it’s not unreasonable to argue Ryan Cline’s 7-of-10 3-point shooting performance against Tennessee was, perhaps conservatively, one of the 15 to 20 greatest single-game 3-point shooting performances in the history of the NCAA Tournament, when you factor in the number of makes, 3-point shooting percentage, the round of the tournament, the game’s outcome and Cline’s single-game performance more than doubling his typical level of production.

The list of the greatest single-game 3-point shooting performances in the history of the NCAA Tournament, which is undoubtedly subjective but factors in the criteria outlined above, should probably include the following performances, in no particular order:

  • Loyola Marymount’s Jeff Fryer – 11-of-15 vs. Michigan in the second round of the 1990 NCAA Tournament
  • Indiana’s Steve Alford – 7-of-10 vs. Syracuse in the 1987 national championship
  • UNLV’s Freddie Banks – 10-of-19 vs. Indiana in the 1987 Final Four
  • Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield – 8-of-13 vs. Oregon in the 2016 Elite Eight
  • Louisville’s Luke Hancock – 5-of-5 Michigan 2013 national championship (since vacated)
  • Michigan’s Nik Stauskas – 6-of-6 vs. Florida in the 2013 Elite Eight
  • North Carolina’s Hubert Davis – 5-of-5 vs. Eastern Michigan in the 1991 Elite Eight
  • Kentucky’s Jamal Mashburn – 5-of-5 Kentucky Wake Forest in the 1993 Elite Eight


When you consider that Cline made six of his seven 3-pointers and scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half, including four 3-pointers in roughly the final five minutes of a back-and-forth game, each one either tying the game or giving Purdue a one-point lead, his name absolutely deserves to be on that list.

Where Ryan Cline’s Sweet 16 performance ranks all-time can be debated.

But his inclusion in the conversation can’t be.

MORE: One Key Stat From Every Sweet 16 Game