By Rob Brenton, Sports Radio 810
Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks won their 13th straight Big 12 regular season league title last week. The run of success Self has had at Kansas has been nothing short of astounding. With all that success, a buddy of mine was talking with me about what he felt the best wins Self has had at Kansas were. I decided to take this idea and run, so with 13th straight title in the books, here are what I believe are 13 best games Bill Self has had at his time at Kansas.
- March 7th, 2004 Kansas Wins Last Game at Hearnes Center
Bill Self’s first team at Kansas is often referred as to the one “that didn’t win the Big 12 regular season title” by most Jayhawk fans. Kansas decided to wear some terrible looking red jerseys that 13 year-old me thought were awesome. But, KU was tied with arch rival Mizzou at 82-82 with 6 seconds left, when Keith Langford drove the lane and fired a pass over to freshman David Padgett, who proceeded to drill a GW baseline jumper with 2 seconds left. This was the final game of the Hearnes Center and Bill Self closed the building with a win.
- New Year’s Day, 2005 Kansas Beat Georgia Tech at the Buzzer
In Bill Self’s second season at Kansas, the Jayhawks had a big non-con game with Georgia Tech, who had beaten the Jayhawks in the previous season in the Elite 8. Kansas trailed by as many as 11 in the second half, but lead by Aaron Miles and Keith Langford, the Jayhawks battled back to send the game into OT. In the overtime, the game was tied at 68, with 10 seconds left Keith Langford drove the lane and hit a GW elbow jumper with 2 seconds left.
- March 16th, 2008 Kansas wins revenge game with Texas in the Big 12 Tournament
The Jayhawks were looking to avenge the conference loss they suffered in Austin. You may remember KU lost that game after Mario Chalmers missed a potential game-tying 3. Due to that loss, the Jayhawks were forced to wear their road blue jerseys at “a neutral site” in Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament Title Game. Chalmers got a touch of redemption as he had 30 points in the 10-point win. Winning that Big 12 title game helped propel Kansas to a one seed in the NCAA tournament.
- November 25th, 2006 Kansas Beat #1 Florida
Preseason tournaments are fun because you get matchups like this one was, the defending champion and top ranked Florida Gators took on Kansas in Las Vegas. This one had all the drama of an NCAA tournament game. The Kansas frontcourt of Julian Wright and Darrell Arthur out played future NBA All-Stars Joakim Noah and Al Horford on their way to an overtime victory over the defending champs.
- January 30th, 2010 Kansas Wins Again at K-State
College gameday made its way to Manhattan, KS to watch the Wildcats take on Kansas. This was the peak of Frank Martin power at Kansas State, as his KSU team would eventually make the Elite 8 later that season. In overtime, the game was 77-76 Kansas, Sherron Collins drove the lane and made circus layup and drew the foul against Wally Judge. Collins then proceeded to miss the free throw, making the score 79-76, but an offensive rebound by Cole Aldrich and subsequent free throw makes by Brady Morningstar iced a Kansas win in the “Octagon of Doom”.
- February 13th, 2017 Kansas Crazy Comeback Win over West Virginia
This one is top of mind for most all Jayhawk fans, as it happened this season. With 2:43 left Kansas trailed by 12 to the Mountaineers. From that point on West Virginia melted down and Kansas closed the gap, tied the game, and sent it to overtime. In the overtime, West Virginia appeared to be both physically and mentally spent as the Jayhawks got out to an early lead in the overtime. West Virginia did make overtime interesting as they got able to within 4 points, but that was as close as they got in the extra period.
- February 25th, 2013 Elijah Johnson’s Big Game Makes Mel Weatherwax a Household Name
Elijah Johnson is anything but a fan favorite nowadays in Lawrence, but on one night in Ames, Iowa he was the difference between a win and loss in Hilton Coliseum. Johnson by himself went on an 8-point run to send the game to overtime and in the overtime he nailed a 30 footer to seal the deal that night. This game is most notable for having an angry ISU fan try to confront Self after the game, this is how the name Mel Weatherwax lives forever among Kansas fans.
- March 18th, 2012 KU Survives Second Round Scare vs Purdue
The two seeded Jayhawks had a second-round matchup with 10 seeded Purdue and on paper, looked like a walkover for Kansas. This game was anything but a walk over for the Jayhawks. Robbie Hummel seemingly couldn’t miss any shot from anywhere in Omaha. But in the second half the gritty Jayhawks were able to lock up the Boilermakers, holding them to 24 points in the second half. This game is notable in Kansas fans minds because of how it ended. Kansas was down 3 with a minute to and got three consecutive run outs leading to 6 points off layups and dunks pushing Kansas to a 63-60 win.
- March 30th, 2008 Kansas Beats Steph Curry
Steph Curry was not the player then that he is today but, he was a tournament darling that led a 10 seeded Davidson team to the Elite 8. One of the my biggest pet peeves , is when Kansas fans say the Hawks “shut down” Chef Curry that day. That is very far from the truth. Curry was one of only two Wildcats in double digits that day, but he had 25 of Davidson’s 57 points. One thing Kansas fans are correct about is the excellent job that the Kansas defense did on the final possession to not allow Curry to take a potential game-winning shot. Instead Davidson guard Jason Richards hoisted the final shot, which as we all know was a miss. This was a very significant win for Bill Self as it put Kansas in its first Final Four with him at the helm and his first Final Four as a head coach.
- January 4th, 2016 Kansas Beats “Buddy Buckets” on Big Monday
This game was a showcase for what makes college basketball great, number 1 vs number 2 in the country facing off on national TV on ESPN’s Big Monday. The Sooners came into Lawrence trying to break the Hawks long home win streak. Oklahoma had a chance, tied at 77 with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, Khadeem Lattin headed to the line for a 1 and 1 with a chance to win. He missed and sent this classic into the first of three overtimes. Kansas outlasted the Sooners in those three overtimes winning 109-106, but the story of this game was the incredible night of lottery pick Buddy Hield. Buddy Buckets had 46 points on 23 shot attempts, I still can’t get over just how spectacular that stat line was.
- April 5th, 2008 Self Slays Old Roy
As if winning a game in the national semifinals isn’t great enough, this game meant so much more for Kansas fans. Roy Williams had left Kansas in 2003 to take the North Carolina job, opening the Kansas job for Bill Self. This game was the first meeting between the two schools since Roy Williams decided to go back home. Jayhawk fans were scorned by Roy leaving and, in the Final Four they got the revenge they so desperately wanted. At one point the Jayhawks lead 40-12. Although the Heels closed to gap to 4 points second half, Kansas and their fans never felt like this one was in doubt. KU throttled North Carolina 84-66 landing them a in the National Championship game and giving their its fans the gift of a win vs their former coach.
- February 25th, 2012 Kansas Beats Mizzou
Both Kansas and Missouri fans alike will never forget this one. As it was the last meeting of the two teams in hoops and appears to be the last for the foreseeable future. Mizzou lead the Jayhawks by 16 with 10:50 left in the game, and faint chants of “SEC” rained down from the contingent of Tiger fans in Allen Fieldhouse that day. Kansas then mounted a huge comeback, battling its rival down the stretch and tying the game on a “block” by Thomas Robinson at the end of regulation. The overtime was not what you’d expect after a team has battled back with a huge comeback, it was back and forth. Coming down to the last possession, where the Kansas’ defense held firm, again, beating the Tigers 87-86. Self has said it was one of the best atmospheres in his time at Kansas. This game meant more than just a getting into the driver’s seat for another Big 12 league title for Kansas, it was a chance to send its arch rival to another league with a nasty taste in its mouth. This game was fantastic, the rivalry itself was fantastic. And don’t let Kansas fans lie to you, they miss the rivalry just as much as Mizzou fans because the rivalry was awesome and had moments like this one which fans remember forever.
- April 7th, 2008 Kansas Wins National Championship Title
What do I really need to write about this game? Everyone knows the story, Memphis misses free throws, Chalmers makes the shot then Kansas dominates the overtime. The photo, the video and the memory of that Chalmers shot will live in Kansas allure forever. Nearly impossible to justify having any other game but his title as the best game in the tenure of Bill Self at Kansas.