LAWRENCE, Kan. – Very late Monday night, about 10 minutes after he scored 46 points on the Kansas Jayhawks, Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield earned a standing ovation from KU fans still in Allen Fieldhouse, folks trying to absorb what they had just seen (KU 109, OU 106 in triple overtime) and the show Hield had just put on.
Hield had been over talking to ESPN commentator Dick Vitale, and now he leaned over the broadcast table as Vitale kept talking to him while shaking his hand. As Vitale let go fans hanging around the bleachers stood to applaud as Hield walked off the court in his white stocking feet.
He made it to the corner before KU fans requested smart phone pictures. Hield obliged. Then he realized he needed to visit the interview room with OU coach Lon Kruger, so he turned and shuffled back across the floor and into the room, still without shoes.
There were Kansas fans lined up to get autographs from players who hadn’t emerged from the locker room yet, and as Hield came into their view they applauded as well. Some called him by name.
Sunday after practice Kruger had talked about what a thrill it remained to play in Allen Fieldhouse. He mentioned how knowledgeable Kansas fans were. Scenes like this proved his point.
Hield scored 46 points to equal the most an opponent had ever dropped on the Jayhawks in their fabled fieldhouse. The last time a Sooner scored this many, Brent Price was filling it up for 56 against Loyola Marymount.
It was ridiculous is what it was, particularly when you consider something KU coach Bill Self brought up – Hield also had seven assists. That made him directly responsible for 60 OU points.
It was ridiculous that he played 54 minutes, an OU record, two nights after he played all 40 of OU’s minutes against Iowa State.
When Blake Griffin played for the Sooners, the beat writers would occasionally go to the pub for postgame (sodas) and talk about how lucky we were to cover him, since we’d likely never see his like again.
We were wrong. Hield has that kind of impact on reporters. And games. And fans at those games, like the ones in Allen Fieldhouse for Monday’s three hours.
When it was over, someone asked Hield what Vitale said to him.
“I was so tired, I can’t remember what he said,” he answered. “He said something. He’s always hyped and energetic. He was saying a lot of good things. I was just fed up with how we lost. He said a lot of things. I can’t remember.”
No need for Hield to remember what anyone said. It’s what he did Monday night that won’t ever be forgotten.
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