Last night’s triple-overtime slugfest between the Kansas Jayhawks (13-1) and (previously unbeaten) Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) was an EPIC matchup and will go down as one of the most memorable regular season contests in recent memory.
Here’s what we learned:
FINAL SCORE: (1) Kansas 109, (2) Oklahoma 106
PTS: Buddy Hield – 46 | REBS: Ryan Spangler – 18 | ASTS: Hield – 7
Top DOG of the Night: Buddy Hield (career-high 46 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists)
If you didn’t witness Buddy Hield’s marvelous performance in Allen Fieldhouse last night, you missed one the most impressive individual efforts in NCAA history. Not only did Hield tally the most points ever scored by an opponent at Kansas, he did so while carrying the Sooners and providing devastating haymakers over the course of 52 MINUTES.
Jordan Woodard (27 points, made bucket after bucket in the second half), Ryan Spangler (14 points, 18 boards) and Khadeem Lattin (10 points, 14 rebounds, 6 blocks) all provided relief, particularly after they trailed by double-digits to start the first half, it was Buddy who lived up to his “Buckets” nickname and put pressure on the Jayhawks from the jump.
Now moving forward, OU needs to figure out ways to involve Hield more heavily in crunch time. There were several moments throughout each overtime period where Woodard or Isaiah Cousins would iso and force up contested shots. Putting the ball in Buddy’s hands is something coach Lon Kruger is sure correct as the season rolls along.
From a pure, individual standpoint, Buddy Hield’s dominant game was a beautiful sight to behold. He got it done from deep, midrange, off curls, off the bounce – no one wearing blue and white had an answer for Hield for the better part of 52 minutes:
Afterwards, Hield (rightfully) received a standing ovation from Jayhawk fans and was an easy choice for Top DOG of the Night despite the loss.
“Too Many Options”
If there were any doubts regarding the ability of Bill Self’s group to handle pressure, they were put to rest after a tremendous battle and contributions from key players down the roster.
Kansas is a very, very deep team, as evident by the unheralded sources of spark off the bench. In the midst of building an early first-half lead, Brannen Greene (2 threes, 5 rebounds), Landen Lucas (8 points, 7 boards) and Jamari Traylor energized the raucous Fieldhouse crowd through big shots and hustle plays.
Traylor, in particular, made a few eye-popping rejections during OU’s run – he changed the flow to the game and was a strong defensive presence.
Wayne Selden Jr. shook off early foul trouble to score 21 points and Perry Ellis (27 points, 13 rebounds) took advantage of his matchup with Spangler and feasted in the post. The Selden Jr.-Ellis duo can be devastating at times, especially when Wayne’s shot is consistent and Ellis aggressive with his righty hook.
But aside from them, Frank Mason III only went 5-20 but starred defensively and handled Hield in the clutch (had two game-clinching steals, excellent ball denial) and Devonte’ Graham pumped up the crowd by fearlessly attacking the rim (17 points).
The fact that Kansas could have a different face play the role of Top DOG each night makes them a top title contender.
For Oklahoma, someone out of Dinjyl Walker, Christian James or Dante Buford must gain consistency so Coach Kruger has some more depth to count on during conferencepPlay. Buddy, Woodard, and Spangler will score on most nights but if Isaiah Cousins is off (2-14, 4 points), someone needs to step up.
And for the Jayhawks, incorporating Chieck Diallo up front, while continuing to feature Selden Jr. & Ellis is the momentum they will ride moving forward.