The Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats are the two winningest programs in college basketball history. These two programs have so much in common. Besides the letter “K”, they both are “basketball schools” where football is an afterthought and hoops is all that matters. They both have produced the game’s biggest names such as Adolph Rupp, the legendary Kentucky coach, who played at Kansas, Phog Allen, which the Allen Fieldhouse is named, John Wooden, the legendary UCLA coach who played at Kansas, and so many great player they are too numerous to name.
In this Big 12 vs SEC Challenge, the first to be played this time of year, midway through the conference schedule, it is only fitting the prime time game was between these two super powers. The game lived up to its billing. Tyler Ulis played great for Kentucky. So did Alex Poythress. But Wayne Selden of Kansas was fantastic. He scored 33 points to lead all scorers and all of them seemed to come when KU was about to let Kentucky get away from them. His drive and slam in overtime put Kansas up 80-78 and they never relinquished the lead again.
This SEC Big 12 Challenge in late January was a stroke of genius. Nothing else has even mattered on this full day of college hoops. It is all anyone seems to be talking about. With this overtime thriller, the two-point win for #1 Oklahoma over LSU, the great game between Iowa State and Texas A&m, the hotly contested game between West Virginia and Florida to start the day, this is destined to become a huge event going forward. The Big Ten vs ACC Challenge is the original and it is must see TV in the early season. It lasts for three weeknights and it is a lot of fun with great match-ups. But to have this “Challenge” all in one day on a Saturday afternoon and evening, this late in the season when Joe Lunardi is talking about seedings and bubble teams, is fabulous.
If next season there is a return game at Rupp Arena, it will be a game many will be looking forward to all season. Florida making a trip to West Virginia and Texas A&M visiting Iowa State will be highly anticipated as well. The Big 12 won seven of the ten games, but they were very competitive games. This should be an annual event from now on.