Last night I missed the big game. I mean I missed The Game! No. 1 Kansas played No. 2 Oklahoma in one of the biggest mid-season matchups in memory. And I missed it! And to top it all off, the game went to triple – I said TRIPLE OVERTIME! What was I thinking?
It’s difficult, by definition, for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown to exceed expectations. But Oklahoma-Kansas somehow did it Monday night. I mean it really, really did it. Did I mention that it took three — three! — overtimes to settle things! In end, which I missed because I went to bed (Slacker!), the Jayhawks held on to beat the Sooners. Final: No. 1 Kansas 109, No. 2 Oklahoma 106.
“Toughest game I’ve ever played in,” said Kansas senior Perry Ellis, who finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds and still wasn’t even close to being the star of the game. That’s because Buddy Hield was.
The Oklahoma senior took 23 shots, made 13 and finished with a career-high 46 points while making a strong case that he should be the leading candidate for National Player of the Year. This was Hield’s fifth 30-point game this season, and his fourth in OU’s past seven contests. And yet it might forever be bittersweet in his mind, and for three reasons.
Hield turned the ball over with 8.6 seconds left in the third OT. Hield missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that, if good, would’ve forced a fourth OT. And, of course, Oklahoma lost.
Still, what a game — for Hield, for Ellis and for college basketball in general.
You like comebacks?
There were plenty. And what’ll be forgotten by most, because of the three overtime periods, is that both teams actually held double-digit leads in regulation. Kansas led 32-21 in the first half. Then Oklahoma led 54-44 in the second half.
Still, the game was somehow tied at the end of regulation. And tied at the end of one overtime. And tied again at the end of a second overtime, at which point it became only the second No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in college basketball history to ever reach three OTs.
In sports and in life, there will be missis and miscues, bloops and blunders, errors and errata. But don’t lose hope. There will be another big game, another big matchup and another big showdown. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t beat yourself down. Take it from me. I was tired last night, and I still overslept this morning! So, don’t lose heart because I won’t lose sleep. While you can’t win’ em all, you can still try, try, try again.