LAWRENCE, KS – Big Monday was the moment made for Buddy Hield.
Almost two hours before tip-off, he Tweeted that he was locked in – ready for a game that he had been waiting almost his entire career to play. It was finally a chance to beat Kansas: A team Oklahoma hadn’t bested on the road in more than two decades.
It was his stage, and he owned it.
It just wasn’t supposed to end the way it did.
Hield scored a career-high 46 points, the most ever scored against Kansas in Big 12 Conference play and the second-most in the nation this season. He scored in every way possible, pouring in the most points by an Oklahoma player since the 1990-91 season, the most against a top-5 team in the last 20 years for an Oklahoma player, and the most ever by an opponent in Lawrence.
A triple overtime epic between the top two teams in the country and Hield was the star.
As the cheerleaders rushed the floor and the Jayhawks celebrated around him, Hield walked alone on the far side of the court as his teammates lined up after the 109-106 loss – the first triple overtime matchup between the nation’s top two teams since 1957, when Wilt Chamberlain played for the Jayhawks.
His hands rested on his hips as he made his way back down the court before he tucked his head into his jersey to turn and received a hug from every player on the Kansas roster. The same fans that booed him as he walked on to the court with an all too “Buddy” smile gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the court, the last remaining Sooner.
Hield had his masterpiece, just not the perfect finishing touch – as his desperation heave clanged off the iron and the triple overtime buzzer sound.
“I just hate losing,” Hield said, visibly spent from playing a program record 54 minutes. “No matter how well I do, I still feel like I could have done better. I hate the fact that we came out with a loss. This is my last time playing in this building. It just sucks, going 0-4.”
All Hield could think about after was his short-comings in a game where he didn’t have many. A missed shot here, a bad turnover there, but it was a late-game blunder with 11.9 seconds remaining in the third overtime that was the final dagger in No.2 Oklahoma’s first loss of the season.
Down by one point, Hield intended to inbound a pass to point guard Isaiah Cousins but misjudged his teammate’s cut and threw the ball into open space, where Frank Mason picked it up and made a pair of free throws to ice the game.
“I have more in the tank,” Hield said. “It just is what it is. You have to learn from this and do a lot of things better. We both had chances to win this game in the regulation and the second overtime. We had enough chances to win the game. We just fell short.”
The lead changed hands 13 times over the course of 55 minutes, and No. 1 Kansas (13-1) and Oklahoma were tied 13 times. No lead was safe. Both teams led by double digits, and both leads were quickly erased.
Jordan Woodard came up one point shy of his career high by scoring 27 points, and Ryan Spangler had a career-high 18 rebounds and 14 points. Khadeem Lattin had a career-high 14 rebounds and matched a career high with six blocks.
“We just have to take it as a loss and just keep getting better,” Woodard said.
They were all supporting cast members to Hield, though. His 22 first-half points matched his total from two nights earlier against Iowa State.
Hield brought Oklahoma even in the final 20 seconds of regulation to force overtime and scored a five-point run by himself to give Oklahoma a lead in the first overtime.
His 3-pointer from the top of the key to start the second overtime gave the Sooners (12-1) another lead. Hield hit another 3 to pull Oklahoma back from the brink in the third overtime.
But it was his bad pass that cost Oklahoma a chance at the win in the first overtime and his inbounds blunder, which might have been aided by Mason stepping over the sideline, that sent Oklahoma home with its 15th straight loss in Lawrence.
Hield wanted so much more, and he might have deserved more. All he wants now, though, is a rematch.
“I want it bad,” Hield said. “We have to split it this time. We wanted to pick up the win but couldn’t. It’s a must to split that one if we want to win the league.”