KU-OU thriller was birthday gift, first-game experience for local woman
Every so often, the stars align, one's path becomes clear and a magical moment appears before them.
For lifelong Kansas University basketball fan Jamie Taylor, that moment came Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
The origin for Taylor attending what many people are openly calling the greatest game in Allen Fieldhouse history dates back to Christmas, when her brother, Todd Mathews, surprised her with tickets to a January game against Oklahoma at Allen Fieldhouse. The timing of the gift, which was actually for her birthday — midnight the night of the game — gave Taylor time to clear her schedule so she could make her first ever trip to Allen Fieldhouse.
Both siblings knew then that the Big 12 clash would be a good game because the Sooners and Jayhawks, but there's no way either of them could have predicted it would be anything like it was.
“I've always wanted to go to a game,” said Taylor, a Topeka native who has lived in Overland Park for years. “But mostly with my brother. So when he moved back home after 15 years of living on the east coast, we talked about all of the things we needed to do to catch up on being brother and sister and going to a game was at the top of the list.”
Already overjoyed about her chance to final see the inside of Allen Fieldhouse, or, “walking into that church everybody talks about,” Taylor's excitement only grew in the days before the game when it became clear that KU and OU would square off as the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the nation.
Sitting in her seats, with one of the greatest games in recent memory unfolding in front of her, Taylor could not help but marvel at how lucky she was for THIS game to have been her first and on her birthday, no less.
Asked how the experience compared to what she envisioned all these years, the birthday girl who has spent most of her life working weekends, which made it hard to get to a game, explained with three short words: “It exceeded it,” she said. “It was so cool.”
Her favorite part of the 109-106, triple-overtime thriller — other than the KU victory, of course — was getting to watch two great teams play at such a high and intense level for so long. “I just loved how hard both teams fought,” she said. “It was dog eat dog out there.”
Not long ago, as the Kansas City Royals were wrapping up the regular season and beginning to make their push toward the franchise's first world championship since 1985, Taylor thought she had hit the jackpot by taking her brother to one of KC's final home games. This gift, however, far surpassed that and now Taylor is looking for a way to one-up her brother somewhere down the road.
“I'd love to go again,” she said. “But I doubt anything will ever equal that, especially being there with my brother and the noise in there. It was so loud. My brother's not going to be able to top this gift ever and now it's up to me to try to outdo him.”