Oscar Robertson, as you may know, played basketball for the Cincinnati Bearcats in the late ‘50s and into 1960. He’s also the king of the triple-double. In just his second year in the NBA, at 23 years old, he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. Only one player (Russell Westbrook) has pulled it off in the 57 years since.
As a Bearcat, Oscar did it ten times in his three varsity seasons. He alone accounts for two thirds of the program’s triple-doubles.
Here are the other five performances:
Rick Roberson vs. Bradley — January 17, 1967
Kenyon Martin vs. DePaul — February 21, 1997
Kenyon Martin vs. Memphis — January 19, 2000
Kenny Satterfield vs. Tulane — January 29, 2001
Eric Hicks vs. Marquette — January 7, 2006
It seems odd, especially given Cincinnati’s dominance in recent years, that no Bearcat has pulled it off again. The last triple-double came in the Andy Kennedy gap year between Bob Huggins and Mick Cronin.
Examining the numbers brings back a few results from guys who have come close. For this exercise, I’m defining “close” as seven or more in three of the following categories: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals.
Note: I’m using Sports Reference for this, which only carries game-by-game stats as far back as the 2010-11 season. If you know a way to search box scores from games older than that, let me know. You will be my hero.
Justin Jackson vs. Memphis
January 4, 2014 (Senior Season)
Stats: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 7 blocks in 31 minutes
Justin Jackson’s emergence as a senior probably deserves its own post, but for now we’ll talk about this game against Memphis—Cincinnati’s first conference road game as a member of the AAC.
It’s really hard to record seven blocks in a game, and Justin did it three times. That being said, this is mostly a “close call” in a statistical sense only. Three additional blocks are a lot to ask for, especially from a guy who played a busy 31 minutes.
Gary Clark vs. Temple
January 18, 2017 (Junior Season)
Stats: 7 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists in 35 minutes
A triple-double, at least at the college level, is virtually a statistical oddity. Danny Fortson nearly averaged a double-double for two seasons in Clifton, yet never managed a triple-double. It’s hard to expect it, even from the best players.
That being said, it’s kind of amazing Gary Clark never did it. He got close a few times, and the first came during a junior-year game against Temple. He shot just 2-for-4 in this game, taking a back seat in the scoring department as the four other starters scored at least 15 points.
Troy Caupain vs. Temple
January 18, 2017 (Senior Season)
Stats: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists in 36 minutes
The biggest oddity I discovered while researching this is that Gary and Troy almost recorded triple-doubles in the same game. Of the two, Troy got closer, needing just one rebound and three assists.
Had Caupain pulled it off, he would’ve become just the third guard in program history to do it, joining Robertson and Satterfield.
Gary Clark vs. Richmond
November 21, 2017 (Senior Season)
Stats: 8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists in 20 minutes
Despite Gary not reaching double digits in any category, I can’t help but feel like this was the one. He played just 20 minutes—nine short of his career average—and checked out for the final time with 6:20 remaining and his team leading by 32 points.
Surely nine more minutes would’ve given him enough time to find two points, two rebounds, and three assists, especially considering the rate at which he was racking up stats that day.
Not quite as close:
Cashmere Wright vs Villanova (03/03/12) — 9 points, 7 steals, 6 assists
Justin Jackson vs Temple (01/14/14) — 15 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks
Sean Kilpatrick vs UConn (02/06/14) — 26 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists