The Day After: Simply put, one of the best games in Allen Fieldhouse history
If you're still buzzing about Monday night's triple-overtime thriller between No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Oklahoma, you're definitely not alone.
The Internet, literally every nook and cranny of it, is full of people talking about the Jayhawks' 109-106 victory over the Sooners for which both teams deserve a ton of credit.
Typically, this blog is designed to provide a specific and detailed look at the previous game played by the Jayhawks, dissecting the ins and outs of what Kansas did well and did wrong before moving on to the next game.
But last night was so good, so memorable, such a well played basketball game by two incredibly talented teams, that I've decided to give the game its proper respect. After all, it's not every day that you hear the words “best game in the history of Allen Fieldhouse” get tossed around and think that people may be using them in the right context.
It was an unbelievable game, one that those who were there and the millions more who watched on television, won't soon forget. And the best part about it was it wasn't one those “great games” that gets that tag just because it included a great finish or a remarkable comeback. This one was great from start to finish on both sides and, outside of the players who might not have survived it, I'm guessing there are more than a few people out there who wish it was still being played, heading into its 27th overtime.
You can talk about all of the great individual plays, the good moments and the bad, the questionable calls and the wild finish, but the easiest way to sum all of that up into one simple phrase is to put it like this: Both teams played their asses off. I already thought Buddy Hield was the best player in the country and came away even more in awe of his all-around game. And, in case you didn't pick this up, OU is absolutely, 100 percent a real live national title contender. As for the Jayhawks, they showed something that they've had a hard time delivering these past couple of years from time to time — heart, grit, toughness and an unwavering desire to win at whatever cost. Both teams laid it all on the line and both teams deserve a ton of credit for their effort and the dazzling display of basketball they gave us. But make no mistake about it, keeping that Big 12 title streak alive means the world to the Jayhawks and their pride, passion and team-first mentality delivered a huge victory that could wind up going a long way toward making that happen.
Three reasons to smile
1 – Because it happened and games like this are so rare that, regardless of who won or lost, you just have to appreciate the opportunity to see such quality basketball in such an incredible environment. One of the most remarkable things to me was that in 55 minutes of hard-nosed basketball that featured all kinds of scrums, just one player fouled out and the teams combined to commit just 30 turnovers. In a game played at this level, with so much on the line, both feats are absolutely incredible.
2 – I'll be the first to tip my cap to Buddy Hield for his incredible 46-point effort, which came on 13-of-23 shooting, 8-of-15 from three-point range, but even though the Jayhawks did not have ONE player who got into one of those epic, anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better wars with the potential national player of the year, they got by because they had THREE guys who did. In his younger days, Wayne Selden would've tried to match Hield shot for shot, big play for big play and possibly hurt his team in the process. On Monday, Selden continued to play his game, attacked when he could and deferred to teammates when it wasn't there. Selden finished with 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting. When he couldn't find a shot, Perry Ellis did what senior leading scorers are supposed to do and found a way to score. There were stretches where Ellis, who finished with a team-high 27 points and 13 rebounds (side note: Ellis scored 27 on 28 shots and Hield scored 46 on 23 shots. Incredible.) absolutely took over the game and kept Kansas in it. And then, when neither of those guys could find a way to get something going, ever-improving sophomore Devonte' Graham did. Graham finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds and made 6 of 7 free throws. In short, it took all three Jayhawks to help Kansas survive a magical night from Hield. And all three delivered.
3 – Both teams shot better than 48 percent from three-point range, with Kansas knocking down 11 of 22 three-point tries (50 percent) and OU making 16 of 33 (48.5 percent). Hield himself made 8 of 15 and the Jayahwks had four players make at least two triples, but the lost hero in this one had to be Oklahoma's Jordan Woodard, who matched Ellis with 27 points and made 6 of 9 from downtown. With so much attention paid to Hield — rightly so — the Jayhawks allowed Woodard to get loose a few too many times and the guard almost made them pay. The deep balls were not the only shots that impressed. Guys finished at the rim, hit mid-range jumpers and little floaters and this was about as well played of an offensive basketball game as I can remember. Guess that's why both teams cracked the 100-point mark.
Three reasons to sigh
1 – Because it's over. If not for deadline and the rules likely fouling everyone out, I would've sat and watched that game for another two hours. Easily. And I don't think I'm alone. Every once in a while you watch those games that you just don't want to end and this was certainly one of them. It's funny because every game ever played in Allen Fieldhouse is guaranteed two 20-minute halves. There've been a handful of overtimes, but, for the most part, the games are 40 minutes. Some nights, when the game's a dud and neither team is playing that well or the opponent is just that overmatched, the clock just crawls by and it seems like we'll never get out of there. And then there are nights like last night, when a game that you wish would last forever just flies by. Think about that: 55 minutes of basketball seemed like it went by in a flash.
2 – I don't do this very often, if at all, but I thought the officiating was pretty awful, both ways in this one. It obviously didn't negatively impact the game and, in spite of the bad calls and look-at-me-moments from the officials, this one still will go down as an all-time classic in a building where that tag doesn't get tossed around every year, but the officials were far too inconsistent for my taste and made and missed bad calls both ways. In a way, I guess that means everything evened out. But I'd give the players and coaches the credit for that and tell the refs, better luck next time.
3 – For this last reason to sigh (of relief), I'd like to give a special shout out to OU's Khadeem Lattin for missing the front end of a one-and-one at the end of regulation with 2 seconds left that, in all likelihood, would have ended the game. It still would've been a fantastic game. And we'd still be buzzing about it a little bit. But had Lattin made just one of those free throws given to him after Landen Lucas went over his back on a rebound attempt on the other end, there would've been no overtimes. There would've been no 46-point night from Buddy Hield or heroics from Selden, Ellis, Graham or Frank Mason. That was not Lattin's only contribution of the night. The long forward finished with a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds and gave KU problems at the rim. But his biggest contribution was easily that missed free throw that gave us the joy of watching three OTs and one of the best games Allen Fieldhouse has ever seen.
One for the road
KU's epic, three-overtime thriller over No. 2 Oklahoma...
• Made Kansas 13-1 and extended the Jayhawks' win streak to 12 games, the longest since the 2012-13 squad won 18 straight.
• Bumped KU's winning streak inside Allen Fieldhouse to 32 games, including an 8-0 mark this season. Kansas is 198-9 in The Phog under Bill Self and 736-109 all-time in the venue.
• Made Kansas 16-9, 6-2 under Bill Self, as the No. 1-ranked team in the Associated Press Poll.
• Moved Self to 365-79 while at KU and 572-184 all-time.
• Improved the Jayhawks to 2,166-832 all-time.
The Jayhawks (13-1 overall, 2-0 Big 12) will get a much needed week to recover before hitting the floor again. They'll play Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Texas Tech on ESPNU.
More news and notes from No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Oklahoma
- Unbelievable: No. 1 Kansas outlasts No. 2 Oklahoma in triple OT
- Keegan: Epic Big 12 Showdown one for ages
- Jayhawks thrilled to be back on top of AP poll
- Notebook: Bunch of firsts set stage for KU’s triple-OT win over OU
- More game notes from the KU-Oklahoma thriller
- Buddy Hield scores 46 for OU in losing effort
- No. 1 Jayhawks win 3OT instant classic vs. No. 2 Sooners
- Keegan Ratings: Perry Ellis shows heart, leads Kansas to huge win over OU