In front of a half-Kansas, half-Missouri crowd, the Jayhawks came out on top in the Showdown For Relief at the Sprint Center by a final score of 93-87.
An electric environment was established from the start, as both teams’ hype videos were played on the videoboard right before the game began. As it turned out, not every fan was actually in their seats by the gametime, as there were large crowds spoted outside of the arena waiting in line to get in.
Video shot by Scott Chasen of the Lawrence Journal-World (@ChasenScott):
Yeah. People care. #kubball pic.twitter.com/nra5BbjKcK
— Scott Chasen (@ChasenScott) October 22, 2017
With two Player of the Year candidates on each team in Devonte’ Graham and Michael Porter Jr., it was KU’s Graham that set the tone early.
Before the first media timeout, senior guard already had 11 points, capping off the game’s first segment by contorting his body for a tough layup to tie the game at 14.
Despite the competition coming to a break at the 14:51 mark for the first media timeout, the battle raged on for fans of both schools, as a friendly competition was being held to see which fanbase could donate the most money via text message to help even further with hurricane relief.
An update was given during the break:
This was perhaps a preview of what was to come in the actual game. Graham came out of the timeout and hit another three, and at this point had 14 points on 5-5 shooting from the field and 4-4 from distance.
Kansas would achieve their largest lead of the half after sophomore guard Malik Newman put in a long, contested two-pointer from right corner to make it 29-22 with just under 10 minutes to go in the 1st half.
From there, Missouri scored five consecutive points to cut the deficit to 29-27 with 7:54 left in the half going into another media timeout.
Bill Self’s original goal for this exhibition match was to raise “north of a million” dollars. During this particular break, it was announced that the mark had been reached — and then some.
As things got going again, it was Missouri’s Player of the Year candidate’s turn to shine. Freshman Michael Porter Jr. drained a three to put Missouri up 33-31, a lead they would maintain pretty much the rest of the half.
The Tigers led 44-40 at the intermission, as Graham had 17 points and Porter had 15. Both were the most on the players’ respective teams.
The 2nd half started and the KU contingent was getting a little bit nervous, as freshman forward Jeremiah Tilmon knocked in a fall away jumper in the lane to make it 50-44 Missouri.
The crowd would soon have a reason to get hype again though, as a three pointer from junior guard Lagerald Vick brought the two teams even at 50-50 after a nice drive and kick from Newman.
The Tigers would respond to the 6-0 run from the Jayhawks with an identical run of their own, making the score 56-50 in favor of Missouri, capped off by a triple from senior forward Jordan Barnett. Next would be the beginning of the biggest sequence of the game for Kansas.
Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike reacted to the Barnett three pointer with a thunderous jam, getting the KU side of the crowd on their feet. Next, after an Azubuike block, Newman streaked down the floor for an and-one layup, converting on the free throw. It was now 56-55.
Kansas took their first 2nd half lead with 14:18 left in the 2nd half, converting on a righty layup by Vick to make it 57-56. Missouri would immediately come down the floor and drain a three off the hands of junior forward Kevin Puryear.
It would be the last lead of the day for the Tigers.
Azubuike would tie it at 59 with a right handed hook shot after a nice drop step in the post, and Newman would give Kansas the lead for good with a three-pointer to make it 62-59.
At the under 12 minute timeout, with Kansas leading 66-63, a Jayhawk with a strong connection to the cause of the day was shown on the videoboard.
Kansas volleyball player Patricia Montero is from Puerto Rico, an area that was devastated by the wrath of Hurricane Maria. Montero expressed her appreciation to everyone who had donated to hurricane relief in a short video.
Play resumed again, and Azubuike continued to dominate the 2nd half. Kansas kept feeding the big man in the post, and Azubuike delivered, exlempified by a two handed jam after a pass from senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to make the score 76-64 with 9:18 left.
The Jayhawks led by as much as 17 after a dunk by Vick extended the lead to 83-66 with 6:37 remaining in the game.
Missouri attempted to make a late rally, but they had dug themselves too big of a hole. The day ended with a 93-87 victory for Kansas in the exciting exhibition match.
Graham finished with 25 points for Kansas while Porter put in 21 for the Tigers.
It was a successful day both in that the game was a competitive one between two old rivals, but also and more importantly what it did for so many people in desperate need of aid around the United States and in Puerto Rico.
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Feature image courtesy of The Kansan