Against All Odds: Beating Kansas in the Heart of the Phog

With three games of conference play left in the season, Kansas had a 15-0 record at home and we had the chance to change that. If you follow college basketball, you know the history made in Allen Fieldhouse and what a challenging environment it imposes for the visiting team. 

On March 26th we sat down as players and coaches and discussed the game preparation. At Brigham Young University (BYU) we take Sunday completely off from any team activity. This left us only Monday to prepare for a game against the number seven team in the AP Top 25 Poll. 

After the three-hour flight to Lawerence, we traveled over to Allen Fieldhouse for our initial shoot-around where we would be playing our game 24 hours later. Growing up as a college basketball guru, it was surreal to have the opportunity to step foot in such a historic arena. 

The next morning, we did our final preparations for film and walking through our game plan after eating breakfast as a team. Although we recognized the magnitude of this game, Coach Pope made a conscious effort to help keep us focused on the task at hand. 

We arrived at the arena an hour and a half before tip-off and went through our pre-game routine and drills to help prepare us mentally and physically. After Coach Pope went through the offensive and defensive keys to the game, a player or coach from the team gave a pre-game speech to hype everyone up. For this particular game Keegan Brown, our Director of Video and Analytics Strategy stepped up and shared his confidence in our ability to compete with anybody in the country. 

Once the ball tipped, it was time for us to put all of this preparation into action and compete. Throughout the first half, I didn’t have the start I wanted but I hit two threes; one of them being timely with 40 seconds to go before halftime to put us down six. The Jayhawks had won the previous 82 home games when leading at halftime. 

After our halftime meeting to figure out adjustments we wanted to make going into the second half, the buzzer sounded and it was time to get to work. After our starting point guard, Dallin Hall received his fourth foul call early into the second half, I had to step up as the point guard. When coming off the court to go sit on the bench, Dallin ran over to me and encouraged me to be aggressive with the ball in my hands.

After scoring only six points in the first half, I finished with 18 total, and 12 of those came in the second half on 31 minutes played. Alongside another impressive performance offensively by Dallin and defensively by Fousseyni Traore we came out with a gritty 76-68 win over the Jayhawks.  

Not only were we able to celebrate as coaches and players, but the BYU fan base traveled all the way to Allen Fieldhouse and Duncan Aviation. Nothing beats hearing the roar of Cougar fans in a packed-out gymnasium full of Jayhawk fans. When we arrived back in Provo at 2:30 am there were over 150 fans there waiting to celebrate with me and the team. Although Allen Fieldhouse is known for their electric environment, nothing beats Cougar Nation and their support. 

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