This is how a KU title win would look

  • It’s April 6, 2015. We are in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium set for a rematch of the 2012 title game - Kansas vs. Kentucky.

    The Wildcats are still undefeated and have looked like a machine for the last month. No one has played them within a dozen points since late February. Kansas has smoothed out the hiccups of late and has won 13 in a row leading up to the national title game. The stage is set.

    The game starts off with Kentucky out of the gates quickly, turning defense to offense off a couple blocked shots and jumping out to a very early 14-4 lead. The Cats think this will be a repeat of the massacre that occurred just a few blocks over nearly 140 days earlier. But this KU team is different.

    At the TV timeout, Brannen Greene, who has emerged as the sixth man on this team, checks in and promptly finds airspace to bury a three. The Hawks grab a defensive board and Greene finds some space again. Another three. After an inside bucket from the Cats, the defense gets muddied up and Kelly Oubre finds space for a three of his own. Just like that, what was a 10 point lead is now a 16-13 game. Crisis averted. It’s time to watch a national championship game.

    With the hot three point shooting, KU has now spaced the floor with their newly adopted 4 out look. This is forcing Kentucky to guard on the perimeter without the luxury of several shotblockers in the lane. That’s paying dividends on both ends, as UK isn’t getting fast break baskets and KU isn’t shooting 19%.

    It also helps that Brannen Greene has shifted into NBA Jam mode. He is practically glowing from the heat emanating from his right hand. 4-4 from three in the first half for 12 points. Perry Ellis has 6. Kelly Oubre has 8, including a couple triples of his own. Cats and Hawks tied at 34. UK with only four blocked shots in the first half, none after the first 8 minutes.

    Calipari is livid with the perimeter defense and starts making some changes. Devin Booker, UK’s best bench scorer, has found himself a comfortable spot at the end of the bench thanks to losing sight of Brannen Greene one too many times. Without the benefit of the blocked shots, UK goes away from some of their bigger lineups. Towns and Cauley-Stein are playing well, but Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee and Trey Lyles are all seeing their minutes cut in this game. On top of that, neither Harrison twin can get it going from the perimeter. Wayne Selden has done a great job locking up Aaron Harrison, holding him to 2-6 from the field in the first half.

    With Booker banished to the bench and the UK rotation discarded, Calipari sends out Ulis, the Harrisons, Cauley-Stein and Towns, which Self counters with Mason, Selden, Oubre, Ellis and Traylor for the early part of the second half. When Greene checks back in, he promptly heat checks a three, which he drains. He’s now 5-5. KU overall is 8-12 from three, which has powered them to a 6 point lead at 48-42 with 11 minutes to play.

    The Wildcats aren’t done though. Harrison shakes away from Greene to hit a triple, cutting the lead in half. Towns gets inside for a bucket and the lead is now one. After another KU miss, Andrew Harrison goes coast to coast for a score and Bill Self is now the one beside himself. He lifts Greene for Selden to get some more defense on the floor. He also puts Cliff Alexander into the game for some physicality underneath. Cliff responds by pounding the glass. He can’t get inside for scoring, but he is owning the backboards. In just 18 minutes on the night, he will finish with just 4 points, but 13 rebounds, a key contribution to the win.

    Wayne Selden has also gotten involved offensively, first hitting a stepback jumper, then finding Perry Ellis with a nifty pass for another deuce. The game has been back and forth, now with KU nudging back ahead 57-56 with just five minutes to go.

    Up to this point, the hero for KU has been Brannen Greene, who will lead all scorers with 20 points on 7-8 shooting, including six threes. But to take it home, KU needs two guys to step forward - the two that have answered the bell for the last six weeks - Frank Mason and Kelly Oubre.

    Mason has been in facilitator mode most of the game. He has only 2 points and has only taken 3 shots all night, though he has 7 assists. Oubre has a quiet 10 points. Off a deflection, Oubre gathers it in and goes to the rack for a very loud fast break dunk. Hawks up three, 59-56. Lucas Oil Stadium is rocking. Andrew Harrison, usually the one to assist on the big buckets, instead bangs home a long two to cut the lead back to one. Off an Oubre three point miss, Cliff Alexander claws down the rebound and finds an open Frank Mason, who drains a big triple to push the lead back to four.

    Karl Anthony Towns hits a jumper to cut it back to two with about three minutes left, 62-60. Frank Mason responds by driving into the lane and banking in a runner to push it back to four.

    Back and forth it goes, but the Cats can’t cut it under 2. The lead now stands at 68-64, UK ball with just 1:08 left. Aaron Harrison gets inside on the drive and draws a foul as he hits a wild shot. Kentucky with a chance to cut it to one. Harrison misses the FT and in the ensuing scramble the smallest player on the floor, Frank Mason, secures the rebound and is fouled. He hits both freebies to stretch the lead back to four with 55 seconds left, but UK isn’t done. Harrison hits a three with Selden draped all over him to cut the lead to one with 44 seconds left. UK elects to foul quickly again and Mason goes back to the line. He hits the first, but misses the second. However, Kelly Oubre claims the board and alertly dribbles away from the paint, eating up a couple extra seconds before he is fouled. Oubre hits both FTs to push the lead to 73-69 with just 27 seconds remaining. That gives him 16 on the night. UK comes down and elects to go for the quick two, with Towns getting a bucket with 19 seconds left to cut it to 73-71. KU gets the ball in to Frank Mason and UK immediately fouls. Frank steps to the line and casually hits both to push it back to a four point lead. UK rushes down and puts up a desperation three that doesn’t go. Oubre secures the rebound to give him a double double and UK fouls with just 11 seconds left. Oubre hits both, pushing the lead to 77-71.

    UK comes back down and puts up a three that misses. The Cats secure the rebound and hit a three as time expires, but the confetti cannons are already raining down by the time the ball hits the floor.

    Rock Chalk Championship

  • “Book-It” Just-a-nother-fan

  • @justanotherfan - Hope you’re psychic and not psychotic!

  • @justanotherfan

    Oh No…you gave away the ending at the end of the ninth paragraph…:(

    Nice read.

  • Wow. That was just awesome. Couldn’t take my eyes off reading it! And yes both of my arms raised up and almost fell out of my chair! Thanks and pray you aren’t psychotic, but a KU prophet! One thing though - Mason will score in double digit 🙂 Mason in whom I trust in March. Whew, that was a great game!

  • @justanotherfan Damn, that’s some serious copy !! I’d give it 1000 thumbs up if I had that many-Some of my relatives (the slower ones) may be from misery, but I’m a born & bred Jayhawk, thankfully with only two !!