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Top 10 Basketball Moments in Kansas Jayhawk History

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIMarch 21, 2013

Top 10 Basketball Moments in Kansas Jayhawk History

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    The Kansas Jayhawks have one of the richest histories in the college hoops universe.

    Their resume includes five national championships, Hall-of-Fame players and legendary coaches including the founder of the game...you get the point.

    Kansas has had an incredible 115-year history as a basketball program, but during that time, there have been 10 moments that have topped all the rest and defined the program itself.

    These are those 10 moments.

Honorable Mention: 1957 National Championship Game

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    Kansas came so close to winning what is arguably the greatest basketball game ever played...but fell one point short.

    Led by Wilt Chamberlain, the Jayhawks rolled through the 1957 season and found themselves facing North Carolina in the championship game.

    The Tar Heels double and triple-teamed Chamberlain for the entire game, but Wilt still found a way to go for 23 points and 14 rebounds.

    It wasn't enough; however, as Kansas held on to win 54-53 in triple overtime in the greatest championship game in history.

10. Kansas Wins the Final Battle of the Border War

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    The final battle of the Border War was one of the craziest games in recent memory.

    Hosting the Missouri Tigers in one of college basketball's biggest rivalries, the Jayhawks were down 19 in the second half and looked like they were about to lose the game.

    However, the team mounted a furious comeback to tie the game as the seconds ticked down in regulation. Missouri's Phil Pressey had a chance to win the game with a final shot, but Kansas' Thomas Robinson blocked the shot, forcing overtime.

    The Jayhawks would go on to win the game in the extra session, the final score 87-86.

    This would be the last game in the rivalry. Missouri left for the SEC the next year.

9. Allen Fieldhouse Opens in 1955

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    Kansas basketball has not been the same since Allen Fieldhouse opened in 1955.

    The stadium has become the home of the Jayhawks and a place where the team has been nearly unstoppable.

    Since February 20, 1994, the Jayhawks have gone 262-14 at home (.951), and since February 3, 2007, the team is 106-2 (.995) at The Phog. The team even won 69 games in a row at home from February 3, 2007 to January 17, 2011.

    Kansas has been incredible at Allen Fieldhouse, and from the day it opened, KU started a remarkable stretch of excellence.

8. Bill Self Wins His First Title

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    Kansas' current head coach, Bill Self, has the potential to do great things in Lawrence, and the 50-year-old coach still has a lot of time to make Kansas one of the most dominant programs in the country.

    Self already has a championship under his belt, as he brought the Jayhawks to the pinnacle of success in 2008, when his team, led by Mario Chalmers, beat John Calipari's Memphis Tigers 75-68 to win it all.

    Self has enjoyed much success with the Jayhawks, including nine straight regular season conference championships and two national championship game appearances.

    Unfortunately the team lost to Calipari's Kentucky team in the final game last season, but Self's first championship looks like the first of many for him with the Jayhawks.

7. Clyde Lovellette Becomes a Jayhawk

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    Clyde Lovellette was one of the first great players in Kansas history, leading the Jayhawks to a title in 1952.

    Playing under Phog Allen, Lovellette was a dominant scorer, who finished as the nation's leader in scoring in 1952, and he remains the only player in history to lead the country in scoring and lead his team to a national championship.

    Lovellette was named the Most Outstanding Player in the 1952 NCAA tournament, leading the team to its first NCAA tournament championship, and the day he decided to come to Lawrence was a great one in Jayhawk history.

6. Wilt Chooses Kansas

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    Wilt Chamberlain was a 7'1", 275-pound mammoth. But he knew how to ball.

    It was clear that Wilt would do big things at Kansas when he dropped 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds in his first varsity start. He would become one of the most dominant players in school history.

    Averaging 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds per game in his two varsity seasons, Chamberlain was a monster and was a consensus All-American both years.

    While Wilt never won it all with Kansas, losing in the 1957 championship game, he was still one of the greatest players in the history of basketball, and his time at KU was a big part of that.

5. Kansas Wins Its First NCAA Tournament

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    Kansas won the NCAA tournament for the first time during just its third trip to the Big Dance.

    In 1952, Clyde Lovellette led the Jayhawks, carrying them to a title.

    The championship run started against TCU, when the team escaped with just a four-point victory. However, the Jayhawks hit their stride in the final three games, winning by 19, 19 and 17 points, respectively.

    The run culminated in a victory over St. John's for the title, winning 80-63.

    Lovellette was the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, lifting the team to its first NCAA tournament championship.

    *Note: Kansas had been named the Helms National Champions in 1922 and 1923 before the tournament came to exist, so it was not Kansas' first national championship

4. Danny Manning Commits to Kansas

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    Believe it or not, there is one player in Kansas history whose commitment to the Jayhawks was more important than that of Wilt Chamberlain. Heck, it was more important than the team's first NCAA tournament championship.

    That player is Danny Manning.

    One of the all-time greats in college hoops, Manning led the team for four years, averaging 20.1 points and 8.1 rebounds over the course of his career, including 24.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in his senior season.

    During that senior season, he led a subpar Kansas team to its second NCAA tournament championship. He's also still contributing to the program as a coach, helping develop players into the type of star that he was in college.

3. "Danny and the Miracles" Win It All

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    The biggest reason why Danny Manning's commitment to Kansas was so vital is the team's NCAA tournament run in 1988.

    Known as "Danny and the Miracles," the Jayhawks were a mere No. 6 seed after going 27-11 prior to the tourney. However, they would come away as one of the lowest seeds to ever win the Big Dance.

    Led by Manning's 24.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, the Jayhawks found a way to string together six straight victories.

    Starting with a 13-point blowout of No. 11 Xavier, the team moved on to beat No. 14 Murray State (61-58), No. 7 Vanderbilt (77-64) and No. 4 Kansas State (71-58) to come out of their region on top.

    The team then moved into the Final Four with a matchup against No. 2 Duke, where the team found a way to come out on top, winning 66-59.

    Moving into a national championship game matchup with No. 1 Oklahoma, Manning led the team to a 83-79 victory to win it all.

    No one would have pegged Kansas to win the NCAA tournament in 1988, but they did it on the back of superstar Danny Manning.

2. Phog Allen Takes Over

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    The second coach in Kansas basketball history brought the most success to the school, both as a player and a coach.

    After proving that he was a basketball genius during his says as a player, Phog Allen was quickly hired as Kansas' second head coach.

    Allen coached two years, compiling a 43-9 record, before taking 10 years off before returning once again. He coached another 37 years at Kansas, compiling a record of 590-219.

    Allen built the foundation of a legendary program in Lawrence, winning three National Championships (two Helms, one NCAA tournament).

    Allen found incredible success and brought sensational players to Kansas, truly putting the program on the map, making the day he was hired one of the most important in Jayhawk history.

1. James Naismith Brings Basketball to Lawrence

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    Nothing could be more important in Kansas basketball history than Dr. James Naismith bringing the game itself to Lawrence, right?

    In 1898, just six years after he wrote the rules of the game, Naismith came to Kansas.

    He was not originally hired as a basketball coach, due to the lack of popularity surrounding the sport. However, he eventually started the basketball team and started the monumental program that is Kansas basketball.

    Nothing on this list would have been possible without Naismith bringing the game to Kansas, which immediately makes it the most important event in the program's history.

     

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