One by one, they marched onto the Allen Fieldhouse floor, just as they had done all those years ago.
Players, assistant coaches, managers and staff members who competed for six of the eight head coaches in the 120-year history of Kansas basketball walked together for a halftime ceremony during Saturday's 84-79 loss to Oklahoma State.
Although the loss by this year's team was not what anyone on the floor expected — and certainly not anything most of them were used to experiencing during their days as players — the outcome did little to overpower the outpouring of love for dozens of players who once were fan favorites in one way or another.
As the nearly 200 former Jayhawks were recognized, fans stood and cheered from the stands. Saturday was not the day for a bathroom break and a quick snack at the break. Instead, it was a time to watch so many of their favorites from the past smile and wave to the crowd one more time during a celebration that now takes place every five years.
Members of all three NCAA national championship teams were on hand — Bill Lienhard and Bill Heitholt from Phog Allen's 1952 team; Scooter Barry, Jeff Gueldner, Marvin Mattox and Larry Brown from the 1988 squad; and Tyrel Reed, Matt Kleinmann and Conner Teahan from current coach Bill Self's 2008 champions.
View a photo gallery from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Cowboys at Allen Fieldhouse.
“The reunion was great,” Self said. “Hopefully, for the guys who came back, (the loss) won't take away from them enjoying their teammates and stuff, but obviously it takes away from the (game).”
Added KU senior Devonte' Graham, when asked if it stung more to lose in front of those guys: “You had guys from 60 years ago come back and see us play and get honored, so you want to win and play for those guys because they built this. Everything we've got, we're living because of them.”
Kansas senior Svi Mykhailiuk, with his 17 points on Saturday, became the 60th player in KU history to crack the 1,000-point club. Mykhailiuk now has scored 1,003 points and is 43 points away from cracking KU's all-time top 50.
The bucket that actually did it came at the 11:57 mark of the second half when Mykhailiuk, appropriately, buried a 3-pointer to pull KU within nine.
After an 84-79 home loss to Oklahoma State, Kansas coach Bill Self discussed his team's problems with defensive rebounding, why he thought the Jayhawks played slow and KU's small margin of error in conference play.
The Ukraine native becomes the 15th player in the Self era to reach 1,000 points, and he now sits in seventh place on KU's all-time 3-point list, three ahead of Terry Brown and two behind Brandon Rush for sixth.
Graham, meanwhile, who knocked in a 3-pointer for the 23rd consecutive game — the fifth longest such streak in school history — is currently in third place with 253 career triples, 16 behind Billy Thomas for second.
After a couple of weeks of talk about his poor percentage and extra effort toward improving, sophomore center Udoka Azubuike shocked the world on Saturday by hitting four free throws in a row to open the game.
Azubuike missed his next three to finish the game 4 of 7 at the stripe. But for a player who entered the game shooting .377 for the season, knocking in 57 percent in a single game certainly qualifies as improvement.
“He doing a great job and he's been practicing them a lot, so he's getting better slowly and slowly,” Graham said of Azubuike. “He definitely looked confident when he made those first couple and it gets him going and energetic and stuff like that.”
KU's loss to Oklahoma State dropped KU to 10-3 at Allen Fieldhouse this season, marking the first time since the 1998-99 season that KU has suffered three losses in its home venue in the same season ... Self is now 230-13 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse ... The loss to OSU dropped the Jayhawks to 7-3 in Big 12 play for the first time since 2015-16 and the fourth time in the Self era, and also pulled Kansas into a first-place tie atop the Big 12 standings with Texas Tech ... KU now leads the series with the Cowboys, 113-58.