<span class="vcard">Rob Dauster</span>

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield walks off the floor following an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Hield scored 46 points in the game. Kansas defeated Oklahoma 109-106 in triple overtime. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

THREE TAKEAWAYS from Kansas knocking off Oklahoma


There was a lot to dive into after Kansas knocked off Oklahoma 109-106 in triple overtime on Monday night. We talked about the game itself and the controversial call at the end already. Here are the three things that we can take away from the game moving forward:

1. Buddy Hield may very well be the National Player of the Year favorite after his performance: I mean, the guy entered the night averaging 24.7 points and shooting 49.2 percent from three for a team that was ranked No. 1 in the country in the Coaches Poll and was undefeated in January. He already was deservedly in the conversation, which is why we had him ranked third in our Player of the Year Power Rankings for a couple weeks now. But after this? He went into Phog Allen Fieldhouse and torched the Jayhawks for 46 points, eight boards and seven assists on 13-for-23 shooting from the floor and 8-for-15 from beyond the arc on a night where the consensus (rightfully) was that Kansas played him well defensively. To put it another way, Brice Johnson had 39 points, 23 boards, three steals and three blocks at Florida State tonight and I’d argue that Hield’s performance was far more impressive.

In fact, when you factor in the locale, the opponent, the defense that was being played and the moment that it came in, I’m not sure I can remember the last time that I’ve seen a more impressive individual performance than this. Bill Self has led Kansas to 11 straight Big 12 regular season titles and he’s lost nine times in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Scott Drew, who has built a good basketball program at Baylor out of the rubble that was left by Dave Bliss, has lost nine times at Phog Allen in his 12-year tenure with the Bears. Oklahoma hasn’t won in Phog Allen in Hield’s lifetime.

And yet, if Khadeem Lattin makes a free throw at the end of regulation, Oklahoma would have won this game.

That’s how well Hield played.

While I’m not yet convinced that Hield is now the Player of the Year frontrunner just yet — my POY Power Rankings come out tomorrow — I wouldn’t necessarily argue with anyone that put him there.

Not right now.

2. We can’t doubt Oklahoma as a contender anymore: What was the knock on this Oklahoma team this season? They didn’t really have a four-man that they could trust? I’m not sure that story line is really a thing anymore, not after the way Lattin played. I know he missed that free throw at the end of regulation, but he finished the night with 10 points, 14 boards, six blocks and a pair of assists in 39 minutes. He was terrific, and played like a guy Oklahoma can rely on as Ryan Spangler’s front court counterpart.

Spangler isn’t a guy I would define as a ‘Land Warrior’, but his game isn’t built on explosiveness or athleticism. He’s strong and he’s physical, but offensively, what he’s most effective at is spacing the floor. He can set brutal ball-screens and his ability to knock down threes makes him a nightmare in pick-and-pop actions. He’s currently shooting better than 45 percent from beyond the arc this season. I say all that to say this: With the talent Lon Kruger has in his back court this season — Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard flanking Hield — Oklahoma can play four around one and not have to worry about having a low-post scorer all that much. Their guards are that good at playmaking. What Lattin provides — or at least provided on Monday night — was energy on the glass, a shot-blocking presence defensively and a guy that could finish off dump-offs and lobs at the rim.

I’m not expecting 10, 14 and six from him on a nightly basis, but that kind of effort level and production ceiling is a great sign for this group.

3. But the Big 12 still runs through Lawrence: That ain’t changing until someone makes it change, and Oklahoma came very close to doing in on Monday. The way to win a regular season conference title, particularly in a league with a double round-robin like the Big 12, is to defend your home court against everyone and to pick off enough opponents on the road that you finish atop the standings. As I wrote earlier, Kansas simply doesn’t lose games at home, and while they may end up losing four or five games on the road in a given season, they have a margin for error because … no one beats them in the Phog.

Oklahoma had the chance on Monday. They missed out on it, and now we’re looking at a situation where Kansas is, once against, in driver’s seat in the league title race.

VIDEO: You Make The Call: Did Frank Mason commit a violation on game-winning steal?

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There was some controversy at the end of the thrilling, 109-106 triple overtime win that Kansas notched over visiting Oklahoma on Monday night.

With the score 107-106 and just 15 seconds left in the third overtime, Frank Mason made a sensational play on an inbounds play, deflecting Buddy Hield’s pass and corralling the loose ball. He would eventually get fouled and hit two free throws with 8.6 seconds left that gave Kansas the final margin of victory.

The question, however, is whether or not Mason committed a violation when he made the steal.

There are a couple of components here, which I’ll get to after the video:

The complicating factor here is that the scorer’s table is so close to the court that Hield simply doesn’t have any space behind him to move back. Officials aren’t required to, but they generally ask for the defense to allow the inbounder for three feet of space. The issue, however, is that Mason’s toe touches the sideline at one point, and he arms pretty clearly cross that plane.

I’m not convinced that Mason tipped that ball in bounds, or if it was even out of Hield’s hand at the time.

So yes, I absolutely think that this was a violation, and I also believe that the referees blew it in not telling Mason to give Hield more space to begin with.

That said, this may have been the only questionable call of the game to go KU’s way. Bill Self picked up a technical foul after a pretty atrocious foul was called on Mason when he picked Hield’s pocket in the first half. And, at the end of regulation, the refs missed a foul on Mason’s would-have-been game-winning drive, instead (correctly) calling Landen Lucas for an over-the-back that gave Khadeem Lattin a free throw to win the game. (He missed.)

No. 1 Kansas knocks off No. 1 Oklahoma in 3OT thriller

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) celebrates at a timeout during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. Seldon scored 24 points in the game. Kansas defeated Baylor 102-74. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

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.