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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Greatest KU games: No. 8

KU won Big 12 with comeback vs. UT, Durant

Kansas University’s Sasha Kaun, left, and Texas’ Kevin Durant jump for the opening tip. The Longhorns built a 16-point lead late in the first half, but Kansas chipped away and won the outright Big 12 Conference regular-season title with a 90-86 victory on March 3, 2007, in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University’s Sasha Kaun, left, and Texas’ Kevin Durant jump for the opening tip. The Longhorns built a 16-point lead late in the first half, but Kansas chipped away and won the outright Big 12 Conference regular-season title with a 90-86 victory on March 3, 2007, in Allen Fieldhouse.

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Editor’s note: This is the third story in the Journal-World’s series of the top 10 victories in Kansas University hoops history. Introducing No. 8:

Ten greatest games

As the countdown continues, look back at the ten greatest games here:

8 - Rallyin' in Allen

9 - Roy's boys run wild vs. 'Cats

10 - Collison hooks 'Horns

The passionate Kansas University basketball fans have given numerous standing ovations to show their appreciation of an awe-inspiring performance at Allen Fieldhouse.

Rarely have those cheers from the stands honored a member of the visiting team, however. Such was the case on March 3, 2007, when Texas freshman Kevin Durant put on a show for the ages.

Every time Durant elevated for a shot, it seemed to drop.

“I thought he was going to go for 80,” Bob Davis, who called the game on the Jayhawk Radio Network, said on Monday.

Durant drilled all five of his three-point tries in the first half. At intermission, the freshman phenom, who earned Associated Press player of the year honors in 2007, erupted for 25 points, and UT held a 12-point advantage.

“He’s one of the best to ever play on that court,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the game. “He’s at a different level.”

What made the game so memorable in KU history was how the Jayhawks turned the game around. Kansas used a 24-7 run and turned a 16-point deficit into a one-point lead in the second half. Kansas won, 90-86, and clinched its third straight regular-season Big 12 title.

A sprained ankle forced Durant to miss four minutes of the second half. He produced only seven points in the final 20 minutes. Durant tried to play through the injury. For his effort, many KU fans rose to their feet and showed their support.

From that day...

Read the original story by Gary Bedore and Tom Keegan's original column from the game.

“I think they appreciated what they saw,” Davis said. “They thought, we better take a quick look at him because he’ll only be there one year (before leaving for NBA). The ovation was really directed at one guy, and deservedly so.”

Durant actually turned his left ankle a few days before the game against KU. It clearly didn’t affect him in the first half. He finished with 32 points and nine rebounds.

“It was one of the great performances I’ve ever seen anywhere,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said on Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “That first half, he was phenomenal. He not only was responsible for what he did scoring-wise, but almost every basket led from something he did, whether he touched it, got double-teamed, kicked it out for an open shot or got somebody a layup.”

Both teams’ rosters were loaded with young talent. The Jayhawks didn’t have a senior on their roster. KU’s junior class featured Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun and Russell Robinson. Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright were sophomores. Sherron Collins and Darrell Arthur were freshmen.

KU was young, but Texas was even younger. The Longhorns started four freshmen (Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James, Justin Mason) and a sophomore (A.J. Abrams). Dexter Pittman was also part of that freshman class.

“What he did with our program was phenomenal,” Barnes said of Durant. “For him to keep it where it was and get us back to the NCAA Tournament, really, people have no idea what kind of year he really did have.”

Durant and the Longhorns won a game in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, but lost in the round of 32 to USC. Kansas advanced to the Elite Eight and lost to UCLA.

For the 2006-07 season, Durant averaged 25.8 points per game. His 903 total points stand as the most by any Big 12 freshman.

The Big 12 has seen its share of stellar freshmen. Texas’ T.J Ford in 2001-2002; Kansas State’s Michael Beasley and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin in 2007-2008; Oklahoma’s Willie Warren last season and KU’s Xavier Henry this season. Durant, however, could be remembered as the conference’s top diaper dandy.

“I think he’s been the best,” Barnes, in his 12th year at Texas, said of Durant when asked about the Big 12’s best freshman ever. “I think he’s proven that now, even at the next level. I think the impact he’s having on the NBA, and what he did in college, I’m not sure there’s anyone who’s had that much of an impact anywhere.”

Durant, now in his third year in the NBA, hasn’t played in an all-star game, but should crack this year’s West roster when the all-star reserves are announced Thursday. Durant ranks third in the league with 29.3 points per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It’s a good bet most people in Lawrence who witnessed the KU-UT game on March 3, 2007, had a good idea Durant was capable of putting up those numbers at the next level.

Comments

53jayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

When you started this series - you said 10 greatest games - with Game 9 and now this game 8 - you say top 10 victories - why the change? Isn't the '57 (3OT) NCAA title game one of the greatest games in KU history? - Now it won't be included in your list since it wasn't a victory.

ccarp 4 years, 10 months ago

Good catch in the editor's notes, but I imagine that was a typo. Relax, there's 7 more to go. That may be one of the top 3. Especially if the Kentucky game was #9.

Jeff Cuttell 4 years, 10 months ago

53jayhawk- They started this as a countdown to the 2000th win. So, of course losses don't count. I'm sure there will be some awesome games included in the rest of the top 10.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 10 months ago

Just a guess but probably all three NCAA title games will be listed ['52, '88 with '08 as Number One], possibly the '88 {Puke] and '08 [Tarholes] semifinal games, the triple overtime game with Wilt and maybe, ugh, the 2003 Syracuse game!!

Anybody else with any guesses???

WilburNether 4 years, 10 months ago

Ranking Xavier Henry with Durant, Ford, Beasley, Griffin, and Warren is ludicrous. At least at this point in the season, Henry isn't even remotely close to belonging in the company of those guys.

bshep 4 years, 9 months ago

Exactly what I was thinking Wilbur.

Chris Shaw 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't know about the rest of you, but the 2003 Kansas/Duke game in the sweet 16 was unbelievable. I was on the edge of my seat the entire game. The same could also be said for the Elite 8 game that same year against Zona.

I don't know if many of you remember the 1991 NCAA tournament, but that was probably one of my most memorable NCAA's ever. Yes, I will never forget 1988, 1993, 2002, 2003, or 2008, but there was something magical about that 1991 team. Maybe it was the start of the new era of Kansas Basketball?

All I remember is a #3 seed making a run for the ages. Kansas is usually the "Top Dog" that everyone is gunning for, but that Kansas team had all the components, but wasn't technically a top tier team. I remember Kansas totally dominating a #2 seed in Indiana and moving on to the Elite 8 to face an Arkansas team that everybody thought was the second best team in America behind only UNLV. I don't know if any of you remember earlier in that 1991 season the much anticipated match-up and all the trash talking that was going on between #1 UNLV and #2 Arkansas. There was a lot of "Hype" for that game and UNLV ended up prevailing. I remember thinking that Arkansas was going to be too good for Kansas, but Kansas came out and completely put on a clinic against the razorbacks as I witnessed one of the greatest games in Kansas history. That is a game I will never forget.

I know KU ended up going on to beat #1 seed UNC in the Final 4 and then lose to Duke in the Finals, but it was that Arkansas win in 1991 that I will always remember. I know it doesn't happen very often, but I would love to see another #3 or #4 seed Kansas team in the future to do something magical like that #3 seed Kansas team did in 1991.

53jayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

my list of 20 greatest ku games - no slight intended to pre 1952 - but I have no knowledge of those games

03-23-57 NORTH CAROLINA 53-54 (3OT) Greatest Game in NCAA History 04-07-08 #1 MEMPHIS 75-68 (OT) NCAA Championship Game 04-04-88 #4 OKLAHOMA 83-79 NCAA Championship Game 03-25-52 ST. JOHN’S 80-63 NCAA Championship Game 12-03-56 NORTHWESTERN 87-69 Wilt’s Debut (52 pts/31 Reb) 12-29-62 KANSAS STATE 90-88 (4OT)
11-25-06 #1 FLORIDA 82-80 (OT)
04-05-08 #2 NORTH CAROLINA 84-66 NCAA Semi-Final Game 12-09-89 KENTUCKY 150-95 Most Points Scored by KU 03-03-07 TEXAS 90-86 Durant’s performance 03-16-74 ORAL ROBERTS 93-90 (OT) Broke their 52 game home court winning streak & sent us to the Final Four 12-01-95 UCLA 85-70 Down by 15 at halftime – won by 15 01-28-95 #1 UCONN 88-59 UConn undefeated (game in KC) 02-11-02 TEXAS 110-103 (OT)
01-01-05 GEORGIA TECH 70-68 (OT) New Years Day – Langford’s shot 11-22-89 #1 UNLV 91-77 Probation YR - Preseason NIT 11-17-89 #2 LSU 89-83 Probation YR - Preseason NIT(Shaq) 01-27-03 TEXAS 90-87 Collison 24pts/23 reb 04-02-88 DUKE 66-59 NCAA Semi-Final Game 11-19-86 USSR 84-78 (EXHIBITION)

JhawkHoopsCrzy 4 years, 9 months ago

As an out of towner I happened to be in Lawrence for this game, and was easily the best Allen experience I've had -- great game, great competition, great talent on both sides of the ball. A friend was with me experiencing Allen for the first time -- he left with a little more appreciation for why Kansas fans all over the country are so in love with their teams.

Ryan Wood 4 years, 9 months ago

In the Big 12 history, the top freshman ever is a two-horse race between Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley. And I'd go with Durant.

kshaw04 4 years, 9 months ago

kushaw...that was a great run in 91. Seems like it has been a long time since hurly, laetner, and hill were the subject of such animosity by KU fans. I still have a bad taste in my mouth for Duke! I remember the next year I was in grad school at Michigan and swore I would never set foot in their basketball stadium (still haven't). Steve Fisher was the coach and I was positive he did something illegal to get the fab 5 (and he did). Every week, I would post the top 25 list on my grad assistant office door and highlight Kansas. I sure made a few people mad doing it. The final with Duke and UM was painful no matter who won! OhTo have seen KU playing Duke again and winning would have been great. Instead it was Chris Webber calling too many timeouts.

As a student, the big games seemed to be against OU, but that was awhile ago. As an alum, one of the most memorable was managing to find a tv and watching the 88 championship in Belize, when I was in the Peace Corps. I was screaming so loud the whole country probably wondered what happened.

baw99alum 4 years, 9 months ago

'93 win vs Indiana. Freshman Jacque Vaughn hits game winning 3 at buzzer. '91 win vs Indiana in NCAA tournament. 'Downtown' Terry Brown goes on a shooting display from way downtown.

honk_for_hawks 4 years, 9 months ago

It wasn't really phenomenal game like the rest of these, but I remember the end of the KU-Arizona game during the championship season. It was the day after our football team lost to Mizzou and ended our shot at an undefeated season, so most people seemed to be too bummed out to make it to a game, much less make it as loud as it deserved to be. I remember how worked up the students that did make it were, and how Rush, after being told to limit him in his comeback, played almost the whole game and had a great matchup with budinger. I remember rodrick stewart dunking on jeryd bayless and rush's halfcourt shot at the buzzer hanging on the rim for what seemed like forever before falling off. For anyone that was at that game, it was a clinic in why that team won the championship. Not a team in the country was as mentally tough AND talented as that team.

gabhan 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't really keep track of this kind of thing, but I've always remembered Senior Day 1992 (featuring Jamison, Johanning, Nash and Czaplinski). It was the last game at the Fieldhouse and it was Mizzou. Anthony Peeler went nuts and dropped in 43 points. It was amazing. Roy said they tried everything they could think of, including not guarding him, but he coulnd't miss. And the Jayhawks managed to squeak by, 97-89.

bad_dog 4 years, 9 months ago

honk4hawks:

I was at Arrowhead for that game and was in the Men's room afterward and had to listen to Mizzery fans snickering about how AZ "..was going to roll KU the next day". I finally turned around and told them their team had played a good game and won, but there was no way in he77 zona was going to win the next day, much less "roll" the Hawks.

gabhan:

I was at Allen that day and yes, Peeler was unreal. I was sitting in one of the corners on Mizzery's end of the court during the second half and remember him bringing the ball inbounds from the baseline twice then getting the ball right back coming off screens and dropping 3's. It was an incredible display, but the Hawks still pulled it out.

Brook Havens 4 years, 9 months ago

Wonder if the '91 Final Four game against UNC will make it.... Roy vs. Dean Smith.... With Dean Smith getting tossed! Or....

Jacque Vaughn hitting a 3 at the buzzer to beat Indiana, '93 I believe?

Steve Brown 4 years, 9 months ago

thanks for rolling these out slowly...make it last.

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