A pretty solid Monday evening of hoops.

It began with S and I trekking down to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse to watch the Pacers take on the Charlotte Hornets. We were lucky enough to be invited by the CEO of her hospital, and were sitting in the company suite. We took along one of S’s med school pals and his wife, who are great company but who we sadly do not see often enough. There were only a handful of other people in the suite, so it was kind of like having it to ourselves.

(A quick aside, this game was a makeup for the game we were supposed to go to: the Colts-Cowboys game back in November. We were offered and accepted tickets to that, but then were told the hospital “Forgot” they owed some kids charity the seats. I think it’s more likely some other exec wanted to come to that game and we got bounced. Oh well…)

Anyway, the game was good. The Pacers came in having won five in a row and had new signing Wesley Matthews in uniform for the first time. While we were doing the obligatory conversation with the CEO, they ran up a 20-point lead and all looked good. We had chicken fingers, some tasty mac and cheese, and free beer. And then the Pacers proceeded to play like garbage. Charlotte got the lead down to one before a final Pacers run put the game away.

Our suite was right behind the Charlotte bench. We walked in just as the players were lining up for the national anthem. I scanned their team, looking for distinctive hair, but could not find the one I was searching for. When the anthem ended, I checked my phone and saw that Devonté Graham was out for the night with an illness. Bummer! Later in the evening I saw a couple wearing KU gear sitting right behind the Hornets’ bench. They were no doubt more disappointed than I was since they were within shouting distance of DTae.

The beauty of NBA games is they generally move quickly. When we walked out of the suite, I glanced at the TV and saw that KU was up on TCU 14–12. By the time we got home, the game was three minutes into the second half. I was able to sit down and enjoy KU looking really good…until they didn’t. Hey, a theme for the night!

When KU pissed away a late, 11-point lead and trailed by four with about 90 seconds to play, I muted the TV. I was going to watch one more possession then kill it so the sight of TCU fans rushing the court didn’t lead to me tossing and turning for hours. Only KU scored, got a stop, and scored again to send it to overtime.

If you’ve read any of my sports posts over the years, you know what happened next: I kept the TV muted until there were 10 seconds left in overtime and KU was assured of the win. I know, I know… But it worked!

A very large road win in very difficult circumstances for a team that has looked like garbage on the road this year and has also had trouble closing out any tight game. I think they should take some heat for blowing that lead, and playing so, so poorly for about three minutes. But they also get credit for getting the game to OT and then putting it away. All while losing three players to DQs. Seriously, the guys sitting at the end of the KU bench last night would be a top 10 team.[1] KJ Lawson hit two massive shots. KJ Lawson! David McCormack hit a couple shots, a couple free throws, grabbed some huge boards, and played solid D. Hell, Charlie Moore played the back half of OT and Bill Self generally keeps him as far away from crunch time as he can. And Devon Dotson and Ochai Agbaji both had massive games.

Somehow they pulled that win out and kept their Big 12 title hopes alive.

I still don’t think it’s going to happen. The Streak is over. Seriously.

But I like seeing them going down swinging instead of giving in and meandering to a 10–8 finish.

  1. Udoka Azubuike, Silvio De Sousa, and Marcus Garrett all out to start the night. Dedric Lawson, Mitch Lightfoot, and Quentin Grimes all fouled out. Oh, and LaGerald Vick was back in Memphis getting his stuff together, possibly.  ↩