It was No. 1 vs. No. 2, or No. 1 vs. No. 1, depending on how you looked at the polls, and Dick Vitale lost his voice at courtside, and Brent Musburger said he had "friends in the desert" — which might have been the thinnest veil ever applied to a reference to our local sports books.
(I still thought they had a great broadcast, at least when you could hear them over the roar of the Allen Fieldhouse crowd. That was some serious tumult.)
Oklahoma's Buddy Hield scored 46 points. After the overtimes and the awesomeness, the KU fans, who know their basketball, hung around to applaud him as he left the court.
And while I still believe Kansas' Frank Mason should have been given a technical for stepping over the line and stripping the ball from Hield as he tried to inbound it at the end, that's beside the point.
That would have only been sour grapes whereas this game was vintage wine. From fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs, it poured sweet and clear. Thanks, Mr. Sinatra.
Even Kruger said so. Only he didn't use that analogy, because Kruger is more of an X's and O's guy than an analogy guy. Fran Fraschilla is more of an analogy guy. And one time, when Kruger was asked about what was playing in his tape deck, he said Abba. Not the same as Sinatra.
"Given what's at stake and the stage and all, I don't know that I've been in one better," the Sooners coach said right afterward about the awesomeness of Monday's game. "It was just terrific."
Las Vegas Review Journal
Allen Fieldhouse has hosted 845 Kansas basketball games. I’ve covered exactly nine of them. That’s 1.06 percent of the games.
And yet, I’ve seen history multiple times. Randy Rutherford’s 45-point game for OSU in 1995, one of the three highest-scoring performances by a Jayhawk foe in Allen Fieldhouse history. KU’s 81-79 victory in 2005 that gave the Jayhawks, and not the Cowboys, a tie for the Big 12 title, a game that Bill Self called the “best-played” game in his 13 years at KU. And the has-the-nation-abuzz classic Monday night, when top-ranked Kansas (AP) beat top-ranked OU (coaches) 109-106 in triple overtime.
Kansas is a place that treasures its basketball heritage. It’s not the kind of place that believes hoops was invented in the last 10 years. KU, home to James Naismith, knows when basketball was invented. Kansas does not tread lightly on tradition.
When ESPN’s Dick Vitale starts crowing about what a game it was — “best regular season game I have EVER been part of” and “it was the LOUDEST I have ever heard an arena” — you don’t put much stock in it.
But when Self, the keeper of the flame, and Kansans start talking about basketball history, you listen.
And to the Lawrence Journal World on Tuesday, Self brought up that 2005 KU-OSU game.
Self said the “best played game” in his 13 Kanas seasons “without question was Oklahoma State in 2005. I don’t know if you remember, but Wayne (Simien, 32 points, 12 rebounds) went nuts. We ended up winning at the buzzer. We shot 66 percent. They shot (58.5 percent). We couldn’t guard each other. It was an epic game. John Lucas was 9-for-11 from the field. The last shot he took, he missed what would have won the game for them. It was for the Big 12 championship. Although last night’s game happened so early in the conference season, you could make a case it didn’t have as much meaning.”
But Self added, “You couldn’t make that case with any of the kids who participated in it.”
Certainly not with me, either. Best basketball game I’ve ever seen, I suppose, and that includes eight years of dozens of Thunder games, high school showdowns at State Fair Arena, hundreds of games at Gallagher-Iba Arena and Lloyd Noble Center, and hundreds of NCAA and Big Eight/12 Tournament games.
I’ve been lucky at Allen Fieldhouse, too. I’ve never seen an OU or OSU victory in Lawrence, but I’ve seen plenty of great games.
That 2005 game Self referenced indeed was one of the best games I ever witnessed. That was Eddie Sutton’s post-Final Four team, so no Tony Allen, but the Cowboys still had Lucas, Ivan McFarlin, the Graham twins and Daniel Bobik. Kansas had Simien, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles.
I was in Lawrence for the 2014 OSU-Kansas game, Marcus Smart’s sophomore year, when the Cowboys lost 80-78. Frank Mason, the defensive nemesis of Monday night, stripped Le’Bryan Nash just before the buzzer to preserve the victory.
In 1994, KU’s Steve Woodberry hit a running jumper at the buzzer to beat OSU 62-61, when the Cowboys were unranked (but would get better in a hurry) and the Jayhawks were No. 3.
In 1995, Rutherford scored those 45 points, but Kansas held Big Country to zero and won 78-62 in another Big Eight title game.
All memorable games. But nothing as memorable as Monday night, when the Sooners and Jayhawks played a game so epic, even Kansas reveres its instant status as a game for the ages.
The Oklahoman Tramel
We take a look back at the game with two Oklahoma basketball insiders: the voice of the Sooners, Toby Rowland, and Assistant A.D. for Strategic Communications Mike Houck, who spent the first 20 of his 21 years at OU working directly with the men's basketball program.
…WHAT WAS THE ATMOSPHERE LIKE PREGAME, COMPARED TO OTHER VISITS TO PHOG ALLEN?
MH: It always feels different at Allen Fieldhouse, but this time there was more energy and anticipation than I’ve felt before any of the 12 previous OU-KU games I attended in that building. Just pure excitement. There's always a pregame buzz there, but without question it was heightened for this one.
TR: I noticed during shoot around earlier in the day that there were many more people in the gymnasium than normal. More cameras…more reporters. You could sense an excitement and tension and it was still eight hours before tipoff. When I got into the arena at 6:30 it was about half full, that’s pretty normal in Lawrence, but the air was thicker than normal. I found coach Kruger in the tunnel for our pregame radio interview and he couldn’t move two steps without shaking a hand or taking a picture with someone. Buddy ran onto the court first, like always, to start getting pregame shots up and he was met by a chorus of boos. He grinned from ear to ear and began his shooting routine. Ryan Spangler came over to our radio position courtside to finish tying his shoes as he walked on the court. I said, “get ready to get booed.” He replied, “Yep. This is going to be fun.”
…TR: As the game came down the stretch, I remember just thinking, “this is perfect.” It’s two teams, both ranked No. 1, and we’re tied in one of the classic settings in all of sports. I scribbled a note to my partner, Scott Thompson, telling him to not be afraid to let the broadcast breathe down the stretch. It’s okay to just let the crowd be loud. I didn’t want to get in the way of the atmosphere.
…TR: I knew it was a special game going in because of the rankings. But, when Wayne Selden missed the open three-pointer at the end of the first overtime, I knew we were watching something historic. I took off my headset during that commercial break and just looked around. I wanted to soak it in. We were watching great teams led by great coaches getting great performances from great players in a building that is famously historic, but a building that has never seen anything like this. I didn’t want it to end. At that point, the winner was not the headline. The game itself was the star.
…TR: I don’t know that we’ll know what this game means in this year’s pursuit of a Big 12 title and seeding and the Final Four for a couple months. If its possible for a team to gain respect in a loss, that certainly happened for Oklahoma. Their stock went up…no doubt. But on a grander scale, college basketball needed a shot in the arm and it got it Monday night in Lawrence. The national dialogue has increasingly been that college basketball wasn’t entertaining and too hard to watch. Rules have been changed to try to make the college game more like the NBA. It has been a struggle. But on Monday night, the sports world stopped and was wrapped in a crimson-infused drama that none of us will ever forget. I brought my two sons with me to the game. They had never been to Allen Fieldhouse. When I signed off the broadcast I took off my headphones and said to them, “that’s it. You will never see a better basketball game than that one.”
Diallo and Bragg, of course, have not played major minutes, so the sample size is small. But both players have suffered from turnover issues, inflating their usage rates. Diallo has also shown an itchy trigger finger on short jumpers.
But here, it seems, is the biggest problem: In 86 minutes, Diallo has eight turnovers. In 192 minutes, Jamari Traylor has just 12.
As the season pushes on, Diallo has an opportunity to be a difference-maker on defense and major contributor in the frontcourt. But if he wants his head coach to fully trust him, he’ll likely have to show he can limit the turnovers and blend into the Jayhawks’ offensive system.
…Remember after Michigan State, when there was much consternation over the play of sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham? In 38 minutes against the Spartans, Graham finished one for nine from the floor and zero of four from the three-point line. That came after he was two of six from three in the season opener.
A few days later, when the Jayhawks arrived in Maui, I asked Self about Graham’s play. Self said Graham actually graded out as Kansas’ best guard against Michigan State — the coaching staff liked his defense, execution and energy. A few scoffed at Self’s comments — check the replies on this tweet — but it’s hard to argue with Graham’s numbers since.
In Kansas’ last 12 games, Graham is shooting 48.8 percent (21 of 43) from three and 50.4 percent overall. More impressive: For the season, he has recorded twice as many steals (26) as turnovers (13).
How exclusive is this club? Among players with at least 25 steals, just three players have accomplished this feat so far: Graham, Northern Iowa’s Jeremy Morgan (29 steals, 13 turnovers), and Stephen F. Austin’s Trey Pinkney (26 steals, eight turnovers).
KC Star KU Chalkboard: Putting KU-OU classic in perspective
Former Kansas University basketball forward Alonzo Jamison, who works as a commercial account manager for Ricoh Americas Corporation in Topeka and lives in nearby Tecumseh, did not attend Monday’s epic triple-overtime victory over Oklahoma in Allen Fieldhouse.
The 8:10 p.m. start conflicted with Jamison’s nightly, eight-hour dialysis treatment, which cleanses his blood and removes all toxins from his 6-foot-6, 230-pound body.
“It’s probably the most electric I’ve seen that place,” Jamison, a starter on KU’s 1991 NCAA runner-up team, said of the fieldhouse, “and I watched at home on TV.”
Jamison — he was diagnosed as borderline diabetic his freshman year at KU in 1988-89 but was able to manage the condition until March of 2015, when his kidneys stopped functioning as a result of End Stage Renal Disease — hooked himself up to his peritoneal dialysis machine at halftime of Monday’s 109-106 thriller.
Normally he sleeps through the night while receiving his lifesaving treatments, but this evening he was glued to the KU game until the finish.
“Let’s just say the right team won that game,” Jamison said with a laugh, heaping praise on the No. 1-ranked Jayhawks. “I see a lot of my last years at KU in this team. They (players, coaches) are enjoying themselves, which is always a good thing. It sounds like a cliche, but if you enjoy what you are doing, enjoy going to practice, playing games and enjoy the people around you, that is a big deal,” Jamison, head coach of Bethel College from 2011 to ’14, added.
Jamison, who enjoys his full-time job in which he represents a company that sells software, computers, copiers and the like, cannot even consider a return to coaching basketball until he gets his current medical situation resolved.
Alonzo needs a healthy, functioning kidney.
Thus, he added his name to the national kidney-transplant list in April, with his turn expected to come up in perhaps 21⁄2 to three years.
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”
Big 12/College News
ESPN's college basketball "GameDay" program will debut this season Jan. 23 from the Breslin Center, where No. 5 Michigan State will host No. 3 Maryland.
The show will air at 11 a.m. in front of a live audience, then again leading into the evening game. ESPN has yet to determine the exact tip-off time.
This will be MSU's eighth appearance overall on "GameDay" and its fourth time hosting.
Detroit Free Press
Matt Thomas scored 22 points, Jameel McKay had 19 points with 14 rebounds and 13th-ranked Iowa State held off Texas Tech, 76-69, on Wednesday in Ames, Iowa, for its first Big 12 win.
Georges Niang scored all of his 14 points in the second half for the Cyclones (12-2, 1-1 Big 12). They nearly blew an 18-point lead before a late flourish helped them avoid their first losing streak.
Thomas drilled a step-back 3 with 1:33 left, and Monte Morris threw an alley-oop pass to Abdel Nader for a dunk that put Iowa State ahead 74-65 with 1:07 left.
Justin Gray scored 14 points for the Red Raiders (11-2, 1-1). They were playing their first true road game.
Texas Tech was brilliant to start the second half, chopping a 10-point deficit to 54-52 after the Cyclones opened 3 of 16 from the field.
The Texas Tech men's basketball team battled back from an 18-point deficit during the opening 12 minutes and pulled within a single possession multiple times in the second half before having its 10-game winning streak come to a close at No. 13 Iowa State by a 76-69 decision Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum.
The Red Raiders (11-2, 1-1 Big 12), who are receiving votes in both Top 25 polls, trailed 67-64 with three minutes left before Iowa State (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) tallied seven of the next eight points over a 91-second span to tuck away the victory.
"I was really proud of our kids the way we battled back," Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith said. "We struggled in the first half being down by 18 points at one point and time, but we showed a lot of heart and a lot of toughness. We gave ourselves a chance, but we couldn't pull it off. I'm impressed with Iowa State. Coach Prohm has done a fantastic job with their program."
The Shockers haven’t yet been a great shooting or rebounding team, but they don’t beat themselves. They have veterans who take care of the basketball. And that’s why they’re still the team to beat in the Missouri Valley Conference, even with five losses.
Make no mistake, though, they have to be better.
Marshall was encouraged by Anton Grady’s 17-point (8-of-13 shooting), seven-rebound performance Wednesday, calling it the best the 6-foot-8 Cleveland State transfer has played for the Shockers. His recovery from a spinal concussion suffered in late November seems to be a full one.
Getting everyone to click, though, has been a struggle. And Frankamp is a key component.
He played 13 minutes against Evansville and took only one shot. Marshall said he’s not playing as aggressively as he has in practice. Marshall wants more.
“Needs to play basketball,” he said succinctly. “His nickname is ‘More.’ As in Conner ‘More’ Frankamp.”
Frankamp is a versatile offensive guard who can pull up, step back and attack the basket. He does those things in practices, his teammates say.
But there has been a reluctance in games. Perhaps he’s being too deferential to more-experienced teammates.
When Frankamp settles in, the Shockers’ offense will benefit. On a team like this, one with such great veteran leadership and a blue-chip coach, he has time to figure things out.
You can tell, however, that Marshall would like Frankamp to expedite the process.
As Oklahoma arrived in South Florida this week for the Orange Bowl semifinal, it carried the hopes of the Big 12 with it. The conference hasn't won a national title in a decade and spent most of this season shrouded in uncertainty after getting shut out of the inaugural College Football Playoff.
The inclusion of Oklahoma (11–1) in this year's field has calmed the nerves of some around the league. But over the next three months the Big 12 will face crucial decisions that could result in significant changes.
The conference's small size (10 members), lack of a title game and absence of a cable television network all loom over the league's president and athletic director meetings in the next three months. The issues will come into clearer focus in January, after a vote at the NCAA Convention determines if the Big 12 can hold a title game while maintaining its current 10-team format. "I think the next few months are vital for us," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told SI.com. "We'll begin to see a few more pieces of the puzzle and undertake a more thorough assessment of what our opinions are."
Bowlsby has stated all year that one season of getting left out of the playoff doesn't make a trend. But he cautions that two years doesn't make a trend either, admitting that the Big 12 lacking a "13th data point" in the form of a conference title game is "a disadvantage." The league will determine over the next few months how much of a disadvantage it truly is, and whether to make changes because of it.
The biggest question facing the league is philosophical: Is a bigger league actually stronger? Expansion is a potential step, and it appears that BYU and Cincinnati would be the favorites to be invited to the conference if it expanded today. However, if there were obvious and lucrative ways to expand the league and enhance revenue, the Big 12 would have taken those steps long ago.
With all that in mind, here's a breakdown of the issues facing the Big 12 after consulting with a dozen sources in and around the league.
SI (from 12/27/15)
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer recently changed his “Crystal Ball” prediction for five-star center Marques Bolden to Kentucky, which already has signed five of the top 16 prospects in the 247Sports rankings for the class of 2016.
“I’ve heard from a couple of sources that I trust that that’s where he’s likely going to end up,” Meyer told the Herald-Leader this week.
Bolden — a 6-foot-10 prospect from DeSoto, Texas — has taken official visits to UK, Duke, Kansas and Oklahoma and is one of the top uncommitted players left in the class of 2016. His AAU coach and mentor is Jeff Webster, a former Oklahoma standout who mentored Julius Randle as a high school player and remains close with the UK coaching staff.
Meyer cited the Webster connection as a possible key factor in Bolden’s recruitment, as well as UK’s recent track record of grooming highly touted post players for the NBA.
Kansas is currently the leader on Bolden’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page, but Meyer gave the recent edge of developing post players to UK.
“There’s been great success with big guys at Kentucky,” he said. “And, this is just me speculating, but you haven’t seen that same kind of success at Kansas with their freshman bigs recently. ... I can’t see how that’s not a factor, and you know that’s part of the recruiting talk that’s going on.”
A part of other schools’ recruiting pitch to Bolden might be that there’s simply not going to be enough playing time to go around at UK next season.
The Cats will bring back current freshmen Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard, and they’ve already signed five-star power forwards Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and Sacha Killeya-Jones. Marcus Lee could decide to come back for his senior season, and Calipari has floated the idea that Skal Labissiere could be a two-year player at UK. (Both Labissiere and Lee are currently projected as draft picks after this season.)
Meyer said Bolden’s college decision could come before players like Labissiere and Lee make their NBA announcements, and those stay-or-go calls might not have any effect on Bolden’s destination.
“Somebody’s going to have to sit on the bench,” Meyer said. “Calipari has sort of got it to a point where he’s challenging guys — almost challenging their manhood if they want to fight for minutes. The opportunity for early playing time is there, obviously, because of the high rate of turnover. But you’re going there moreso to develop. It’s not about showcasing your talent. If a player wants to showcase their talent, they make a decision like Malik Newman made and go to Mississippi State.
“You don’t really go to Kentucky to showcase your talent. Your numbers are going to be lower. Your playing time might be lower. You go there for the regimen and the competition in practice and the daily grind. And to endure the pressure.”
Lexington Herald Leader
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube