Feb 25, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self celebrates winning against the Missouri Tigers at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won the game in overtime 87-86. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
At halftime, I turned to my friend and said "we're not 12 points better than them over the course of a half."
With 15 minutes left, I turned to my friend and said "we're not 13 points better than them over 15 minutes."
With 8 minutes left, I turned to my friend and said "we're not 10 points better than them over the course of 8 minutes."
With 4 minutes left, I turned to my friend and said "we're not 5 points better than them over the course of 4 minutes."
Whoops, whoops, whoops and whoops. Marcus Denmon missed a 30 foot heave at the end of the shot clock, Thomas Robinson made a layup and the free throw to go with it, and, though it took all 20 minutes, a 12 point lead had been erased. The overtime was the same mixture of feelings of terror, exhilaration and relief. After Missouri didn't even get a shot off on their last possession Allen Fieldhouse exploded in jubilation, even sweeping Bill Self up in the mania. Ten minutes after the game ended, 85% of the students were still in their seats.
And could you blame them? 25 minutes of game time, nearly an hour and a half of real time, after likely needing to win at Oklahoma State and vs. Texas just for a share of the Big 12 title, it was all ours. After the sickening feeling that our biggest rival could leave Allen Fieldhouse as victors in the final meeting, both teams seemed to bend to the building's will, as shots that had fallen all day for missouri suddenly were rimming out and Thomas Robinson had a truly POY worthy second half. The final Border War didn't meet expectations; it blew way
passed past (whoopsie) them, and was a fitting way to end the rivalry, perhaps for good.
In statistical terms, it's fair to say that Kansas didn't play terribly well. They allowed missouri to grab 31.4% of their misses, both over their average as well as KU's average allowed, but most shockingly they allowed a 54.6% eFG including Missouri shooting 52.7% from two. But Kansas took their best shot and still won.
Offensively Kansas played far better than the eye test would suggest. Though there were certainly times they appeared discombobulated and sluggish, they scored 1.21 points per possession, a product of posting a 56% eFG and turning it over on only 12.5% of their possessions.
The win of course clinches at least a share of Kansas's 8th straight Big 12 title, but there is still work left to be done. A win in either of their last two games will clinch it outright and then there is the matter of chasing not just a #1 seed but perhaps an Omaha-St. Louis route to the Final Four.
- After a sluggish first half in which I think most people were kissing the POY award goodbye, Thomas Robinson responded in a big way, scoring 11 points in the final 9 minutes, and blocking the shot that would have won it for missouri in regulation. He finished with 28 points (10-21) and 12 rebounds. He also went 8-9 from the line.
- After Tyshawn Taylor got fouled late, down 1 and needing both for the win, I thought to myself that there's no one I'd rather have on the line than him. He responded by hitting perhaps the two biggest free throws of his career and solidifying this as one of the better seasons by a KU guard in the last decade. He also had just 1 turnover in a 72 possession game.
- For how much I have ragged on him this year, Conner Teahan was beyond fantastic. He hit all 4 of his threes, and after a shaky first half taking care of the ball he took care of the ball really well and even guarded incredibly well in the second half. Being a local kid this obviously meant a ton to him and I was beyond overjoyed to see him play so well.
- Kevin Young, defensive wizard! Young had 4 blocks and 8 rebounds (3 offensive) and provided two huge dunks as well. He wasn't great offensively but played decent defense and provided a lot of energy, and his 28 minutes were probably 18 more than he would have played had Withey been healthy.
- Elijah Johnson continues his transition into becoming a set up master, dishing out 8 assists, and not turning it over once mind you. He also made 2 of his 5 threes as well as a nice floater in the lane. He's not a superstar, but I think we may be seeing him turn a corner a bit.
- As you can imagine, this was a see saw game (especially in the 2nd half) and things got pretty crazy, win probability wise. How crazy? This crazy (courtesy of KenPom):