Then again, falling asleep during the first half of a highly anticipated #1 (AP) Kansas vs. #1 (Coaches) Oklahoma Big Monday matchup is not a hoopaholic’s wont.
Upon waking and having read that the tilt went 3 OTs, there was but one choice. Grab breakfast and a cup of morning java, and head to the computer, turn the volume down, and pull up the replay.
Thank you, Watch ESPN.
What unfolded before my bleary eyes was, this is not hyperbole but the truth, the best basketball game I’ve ever seen.
Was it the best college hoops game ever? More than Duke over UK in the East Regional Final? Carolina over Wilt and Kansas in 3 overtimes for the NCAA crown? N.C. State over UCLA in 3 OTs in the ’74 national semis?
I dunno, that’s a subjective assessment.
Was it important?
Not in the grand scheme of things. It’s still early January, and it sure wasn’t Texas Western over Kentucky, which I attended.
But, of course, it matters if, like me, you’re a hoopaholic, and your very well being depends on infusions of such beauteous basketball.
When Vitale hyperventilated, “This is Ali/ Frazier,” when he shouted, “Let’s have overtime, let’s stay here all night,” I simply had to smile and agree.1
* * * * *
Thirteen ties. Thirteen lead changes.
Steals. Blocks. Technicals. Haymakers landed. Counter punches.
The Sooners were 16/33 (49%) from beyond the arc.
The Jayhawks drained 11/22 (50%) treys.
At the end of regulation, Oklahoma had a chance to win it at the line with :02.1 on the clock. But Khadeem Lattin (10 points, 14 rebounds), grandson of Big Daddy D Lattin, center for that Texas Western champ, missed the front end of a 1+1.
At the end of the OT#1, Kansas had a chance to win. But Perry Ellis (27 points, 13 rebounds) missed a five foot jumper.
Back and forth. Then again. And again. And again.
* * * * *
Such was the intensity, the teams were exhausted at the end of regulation. And still went three extra periods.
How tired must they have been?
There were 275 player minutes per side. (5 players X 55 minutes each.)
Sooner starters played 240 of the 275. Jayhawk starters got a little more relief from the bench, playing but 204 of the 275.
Yet . . . yet . . . yet . . . the second OT started like this: Buddy Hield (O) trey. Devonté Graham (K) trey. Okie answer: Jordan Woodard (27 points, 7 assists) from beyond the arc. Landon Lucas (K) FT and second chance tipin. Two more Lucas FTs. Answered with two Woodard FTs.
After which stunning back and forth, the teams, in need of an infusion of Gatorade spiked with crystal meth, could hardly walk, let alone ball. That OT ended with six straight empty possessions, three by each team.
* * * * *
In OT#3, Kansas slipped out to a four point advantage, after several you take this no you take that possessions.
Then Hield (46 points, 8 rebounds, 7assists, 54 of 55 possible minutes on the court) canned a three, with an assist from Lattin. Followed by a Lattin deuce, assist from Hield.
A Wayne Selden Jr. (21 points) score put Kansas back on top. Oklahoma regained the lead with a Woodard trey.
Etc, etc, etc.
On and on and on. Until Kansas finally prevailed.
Even Vitale was stunned to silence, “There’s not much more you can say.”
* * * * *
The evening ended with players and coaches from both sides hugging each other and giving props. The Kansas fans gave Buddy Hield a standing O.
* * * * *
It was a huge Big Monday, the first of the year, a night when Carolina’s Brice Johnson went for 39 points and 23 rebounds in Tallahassee against Florida State, and Virginia Tech upset UVa in Blacksburg.
And #1 Kansas and #1 Oklahoma played a game for the ages, the best this hoopaholic has ever seen.
It was a tilt so grand, even Vitale and Musburger were palatable with breakfast.
— Seedy K