Monday night's triple overtime marathon between Kansas and Oklahoma was check your pulse, slam a shot of rye whiskey with the start of each overtime, good. It was like a heavyweight bout between two champ worthy opponents swinging haymakers at each other with reckless abandon.
It might have been one of the best games in Allen Fieldhouse history. Where it fits on the scale of all time greatest games in the Phog's 61 year history is too difficult and time consuming to measure. Since most of RCT's readers weren't around to watch Wilt Chamberlain showing off his lengthy gams in tighty-white shorts, or Jo Jo White in his classic Converse, or even old enough to remember Danny Manning and his double wristbands, let's look at this past Monday's game in a more modern context of the Bill Self era alone.
In that regard, the Kansas-v-Oklahoma game of January 4, 2016 definitely deserves to be on the list of top five, unforgettable, Self era, Allen Fieldhouse face melters:
5 - February 5, 2006 - #19 Oklahoma @ (unranked) Kansas
The Stage: The core of the 2008 National Title squad (Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Russell Robinson, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun) were all snotnosed youngsters. The season got off to a rough 10-6 overall, and 1-2 in conference, start. A few blasphemy inclined folks around Lawrence were even talking NIT.
How It Played Out: Kelvin Sampson's Sooners used their patented beat 'em up style of "basketball" to physically push the young 'Hawks all around the court for the first 32 minutes of the game. At one point the Sooners led by as many as 16. Then, in the first clutch win of what would prove to be a defining attribute of this eventual championship roster, the Jayhawks stormed back. A Julian Wright put back with just 53 seconds left in regulation gave Kansas its first lead of the game. This win helped propel the '06 Jayhawks to a share of Big 12 title, earning Self his first Big 12 Coach of the Year honors in the process.
Final Score: Kansas 59, Oklahoma 58
Lasting Image: Trailing by two with just 28 seconds left, Sooners guard Michael Neal hit a devastating three point shot to put the Sooners back up by one. Then Mario Chalmers immediately took the inbound pass, ran up the court like a man possessed, got into the lane, and nailed the game winning shot before a prematurely celebrating Oklahoma even knew what hit them.
4 - February 27, 2005 - #4 Oklahoma State @ #8 Kansas
The Stage: Armed with the experience of seniors, Wayne Simien, Aaron Miles, and Keith Langford, the 2004-05 Jayhawks came into the season with the school's first ever preseason #1 ranking. After a 20-1 start to the season, the 'Hawks sputtered with three straight conference losses. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State, coming off a Final Four in the spring of '04, were loaded with four senior starters, led by Joey Graham and sweet shooting John Lucas III. The Cowboys came into Lawrence winners of six of their previous seven games, an offensive juggernaut, and with a chance to eliminate struggling Kansas from the conference title race.
How It Played Out: Both the Jayhawks and Cowboys were shooting red hot in this one, 60 % from the field. Wayne Simien played like an absolute beast, throwing down a career high 32 points to go along with his 12 boards. The game was tied 39 all at the break, and in the second half the teams traded leads at a dizzying rate. In spite of Kansas shooting 70% from the field in the second frame, the Cowboys kept pulling ahead by six or seven points and held a 78-72 lead with four minutes left in regulation. KU tied it at 78 with a little more than a minute to play. The victory gave Kansas the inside track to the first conference title of their current 11 title streak, and the thrilling win over his alma mater gave Self a reason to deliver his first Allen Fieldhouse big game, celebratory, Okie whoopin', fist pump.
Final Score: Kansas 81, Oklahoma State 79
Lasting Image: On a day in which Lucas III started a perfect 9-9 from the field with 22 points, Lucas delivered sick step back move that seemingly broke his KU defender Mike Lee's ankles, giving Lucas a wide open look at a game winning three as time expired. And he MISSED.
3 - March 3, 2007 - #15 Texas @ #3 Kansas
The Stage: All the hype going into this one involved Texas star freshman, Kevin Durant. The kid averaged 26 points and 11 boards in his lone college season, and he put on an absolute show in front of the Allen Fieldhouse crowd, running up and down the court like a mad ballin' gazelle with a share of the Big 12 conference title on the line.
How It Played Out: Durant was throwing down dunks and draining threes in scoring 25 first half points as he and the Longhorns built as much as a 16 point lead on the Jayhawks. Coming out of the break, Self put his defensive glove, Brandon Rush, on Durant for most of the second half. Offensively, the 'Hawks came out on fire, erasing the deficit and pulling ahead 62-61, for good, on a Rush three pointer around the 15 minute mark. This win in the last game of the regular season prevented a three way tie between Kansas, Texas A&M, and Texas for the Big 12 conference title. The Jayhawks won it outright, and set up an epic overtime rematch between Texas and Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament title game just one week later.
Final Score: Kansas 90, Texas 86
Lasting Image: Durant rolling his ankle around the 11 minute mark. Kansas' defense smothered Durant for the first nine minutes of the second half. Things weren't coming as easy for him, the rest of the Longhorns wilted, and he was pressing to score. Longhorn fans, at the time, pointed to this play as the reason Kansas won. Never mind the fact that the Jayhawks had already completed the comeback and were leading 71-65 at the time. Still, it is hard to argue that Durant sitting on the bench for six minutes was too costly for Texas. When he came back in, a limping Durant definitely helped the 'Hawks preserve the win.
2 - January 4, 2016 - #2 Oklahoma @ #1 Kansas
The Stage: The two teams actually split the polls - Kansas #1 in the AP, Oklahoma #1 in the Coaches. Oklahoma's Buddy Hield was arguably playing better than anyone in the country, and Kansas was arguably shooting better than any team in the country.
How It Played Out: It's still fresh in everyone's mind. 13 ties. 13 lead changes. Three overtimes. Two non-calls seemingly costing each team the win. The difference? Kansas cashed in the one in their favor.
Final Score: Kansas 109, Oklahoma 106 - 3 OT
Lasting Image: Wayne Selden dunking between four Oklahoma Sooners. The play came off a Hield turnover. Selden took it the length of the floor with no other Jayhawk anywhere in sight. Four Sooners surrounded him. He went right through them all before throwing down a two handed dunk. After that play it was game on with both teams trading blows all the way to the end.
1 - February 25, 2012 - #3 Missouri @ #4 Kansas
The Stage: With the Tigers leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in the summer of 2012, this game marked the final men's basketball contest between these two hated rivals. Fittingly, it came at a time when Mizzou, finally, had a Final Four caliber squad. The two teams had already played each other in an epic Top 10 matchup in Columbia, which the Tigers won in dramatic fashion. The final round pit the two against each other with the Big 12 conference title on the line. The Fieldhouse has never been as loud, emotions never higher.
How it Played Out: The Tigers came out completely unbowed by the atmosphere, shooting the lights out of the gym in piling on a massive 19 point lead. It was a deficit which tied for largest in Allen Fieldhouse history. In the second half Self made the necessary defensive adjustments. So smothering was Kansas' defense that for six minutes in the second half the Jayhawks held the Tigers to 0 made field goals. By the time the Tigers reclaimed their shooting touch, the 'Hawks had already reset the game thanks to 24 points from Tyshawn Taylor, 100% three point shooting from Connor Teahan, and Thomas Robinson's gem of 28 points and 12 boards. Regulation wasn't enough to decide this one though. And the extra period ended in insane fashion, with four lead changes in the last 40 seconds. If there was ever a game worth KU fans breaking their ban on rushing the court, it was this one.
Final Score: Kansas 87, Missouri 86 - OT
Lasting Image: Thomas Robinson going Nacho Libre - "Get that corn outa my face!" - on Phil Pressey to end regulation. Mizzou fans swear this was a foul. In truth, it was T-Rob stealing Pressey's manhood.