It is fair to say that Kansas senior and Georgia Tech junior guard Jarrett Jack share an on-court rivalry. However, the two friends keep it to a friendly rivalry and are very appreciative of what the other brings to the court. Actually they are both the kind of player that fans should enjoy regardless of who they may cheer for.
After leaving everything he had on the court and coming up short despite a 26 point and three assist effort, Jack -- who prior to the game admitted that he was trying to soak up as much atmosphere as possible by going near the student section and perhaps even encouraging their taunts -- was both candid and classy as he discussed his experience at Allen Fieldhouse.
“Keith Langford walked by me and said that this is going to be on ESPN Classic for a long time, you knew it was going to be a great game,” said Jack of his first trip to Allen. “They probably have the best fans in the country. I’ve never been in a building with an atmosphere quite like this. We just did a great job of battling for 40 minutes plus the overtime.”
Often times during the game Jack was seen exchanging verbal barbs with Langford. However, it wasn’t your typical trash talk as the two are close friends and clearly enjoyed going head to head.
“It’s kind of fun because we know each other on a more personal level, so we have a relationship as to where we are friends off the court,” said Jack. “To go against one of your guys and just know that both of you are just competing, you know we are great competitors.
“When I would hit a shot he would come at me shaking his head and say why don’t you just miss one. Then he’d come out and knock one down and I’d say the same thing to him. It was kind of fun just having an all out duel I guess. You’d love to be on the winning side, I’m sure he’ll be a lot more happy though.”
Langford enjoyed his side of the conversation as well.
“Me and Jarrett’s relationship extends to beyond off the court and I’ve known him for a couple of years and we’re pretty good friends,” said Langford. “It was just friendly talk and I was telling him we aren’t going anywhere and we’re still here. You’ve got to come back on offense because I’m sure going to play defense.
“It was all positive though, nothing negative. No m.f. this or f -you or anything like that, it was all good things.”
As much as he would have liked to have seen a different outcome, Jack simply applauded his team’s effort level and gave Kansas -- especially Langford, who hit the game winning shot and scored a team high 18 points -- credit for not giving up.
“He’s a big-time player and he came up big for his team, you know he’s a senior and he’s been in these positions before,” said Jack of Langford’s game winning shot. “They’re probably the grittiest team we’ll ever play, they didn’t put their heads down when we jumped on them early and they just stayed in it and fought tough.”
During his post game press conference, Self was asked how he felt about a player like Jack saying that the Jayhawks were the grittiest team he’d ever played.
“I really like him (Jack), especially if he says nice things about us, and I told him after the game I said you’re as good as I’ve coached against,” said Self. “He’s sees the game the right way and he’s unselfish and I think that’s a big-time compliment. Georgia Tech’s got really good players and we’ve got really good players but talent levels is not what wins and loses games where they count the most, it’s intangibles. I think that we are tough.
“Last year was the exact same game, they had us dead and buried” continued Self. “We get down four in overtime last year and we can’t recover, we get down four in overtime this year and we win the game. I can understand how he’d say something like that, because we haven’t played particularly well against Tech but we have competed hard in both of those games.