It’s only January 4th, but we already have the Game of the Year in college basketball.
Hell, we might have just been a witness to the game of the decade, and I say that without a hint of hyperbole.
Frank Mason stole an inbounds pass with 15 seconds left with the Jayhawks up one and, after two Mason free throws, Buddy Hield missed a desperation three at the buzzer, giving Kansas, the No. 1 team in the AP Poll, a 109-106 win over Oklahoma, the No. 1 team in the Coaches Poll, in triple overtime.
“That was the toughest game I’ve ever played in,” Perry Ellis, who led the Jayhawks with 27 points and 13 boards, said afterwards.
“I just need a bed right now,” Hield said on Sportscenter after the game.
To get an idea of just how wild this game was, chew on this for a second: Hield, Oklahoma’s superstar senior that entered the night averaging 24.7 points, finished with 46 points on 13-for-23 shooting, hitting 8-of-15 from beyond the arc while adding eight boards and seven assists. He scored 33 of those points in regulation, popping off for 22 in the first half, and as crazy as this is going to sound, Kansas actually did a pretty damn good job defending him.
I know, right?
I mean, just watch this play, watch the way Mason defends Hield. What else can he possibly do?
“I thought we did a really good job holding him to 46,” Bill Self said after the game.
There’s so much more to dive into as well:
- Hield, the kid who played like the G.O.A.T. for the first 54:39 of this game, was the goat in the final minute, as he committed a pair of turnovers — both steals by Mason — nine seconds apart that allowed Kansas to take the lead and extend the lead to 109-106. “I just had a couple careless turnovers that cost us the game,” Hield said, taking the blame for a loss where he scored 46 points in 54 minutes. Not many kids would do that.
- Kansas was up 32-21 in the first half, but Hield sparked a furious comeback at the end of the first half, a 25-8 run that was capped by Self picking up a technical foul when Mason seemingly landed a clean strip of Hield. That tech mattered because Mason, as Self was screaming profanities directly in the official’s face, slammed the ball on the ground and had to be restrained by his teammates. If it weren’t for Self’s reaction, Mason would have picked up a technical. He finished the game with four fouls, having picked up his fourth at the very end of regulation. That technical, if he had received it, would have forced Mason to miss the overtimes.
- Kansas was also down by as many as ten points in the second half, as the Sooners looked, for a while, like they were getting ready to pull away from the Jayhawks.
- And should I mention that Kansas very nearly lost at the end of the first overtime when they had six players on the court?
There’s no question that this game lived up to the hype of being No. 1 vs. No. 1, and the timing couldn’t have been better, with this being the first Monday without Monday Night Football and the first weekday after New Year’s and essentially all of the college football bowl games. There were a lot of people paying attention to this, and it certainly delivered.
This not a game that we’re soon going to forget.
Hield’s performance is not one that we’re soon going to forget.
The best part?
The rematch in Norman is on February 13th.
Here’s to hoping the face-off in the Big 12 tournament for the rubber match.