Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Linenberger: K-State ends drought impressively

February 6, 2008

A Kansas State student held a homemade tombstone sign at Wednesday's Kansas-Kansas State game in Bramlage Coliseum that basically showed "The Streak" and its years of existence.

The Wildcat fan also displayed the traditional "Rest In Peace" wording with the sign.

The Stater, of course, was referring to KU's streak against K-State in Manhattan, which ran from Jan. 29, 1984, to Jan. 30, 2008.

The Streak ended at 24 with K-State's 84-75 win in Manhattan.

I was hoping The Streak would reach 25 in 2009. Not only because that would have tied Kansas with UCLA as owning the longest NCAA basketball streak of winning on another team's home court (UCLA owns that distinction against Cal-Berkeley). Also, one more year and The Streak would have qualified for lower car insurance premiums.

Honestly, as a KU fan, I would have been happy to concede the occasional loss in Allen Fieldhouse at the hands of the Wildcats. As long as the Jays kept winning at Manhattan, it didn't bother me.

But every record is bound to end at some point, and K-State did so in Bramlage Coliseum in impressive fashion - winning a game when both teams were ranked simultaneously for the first time since 1958.

Equally amazing is both teams not being ranked at the same time in 50 years.

It might be hard for some Jayhawk fans to admit, but K-State basketball has a pretty decent legacy in its own right.

Yes, the 1990s and 2000s overall haven't been as kind to the KSU program as the Wildcat fans would have liked, but K-State has had its share of success over the years. In addition, K-State was named the No. 22 team in Street and Smith's "100 Greatest Basketball Programs of All-Time."

Take the former Big Eight Conference. KU and K-State led the way in conference titles, with the Jayhawks having collected 32 outright and 43 total. K-State had 14 outright and 17 total.

There's a bit of a disparity there, but they still went 1-2 in that category.

In fact, K-State has four final four appearances, as well as several regional championship showings, to its credit.

In recent years, K-State was known as a football school, but in the late 1980s, Sports Illustrated referred to KSU football as "Futility U," and evaluating the notion of K-State dropping football, which was bringing down its storied basketball program.

But I digress.

Back to that streak. Winning that many games consecutively on an opponents' home court is an impressive feat.

The final five games in Ahearn Fieldhouse went to the Jayhawks, as well as the first 19 in Bramlage Coliseum.

I've always stood by the notion that KU never would have held such a stranglehold in Manhattan had K-State remained in Ahearn Fieldhouse, as "The Old Barn" had far better atmosphere than Bramlage Coliseum. (On another side note, I wonder what K-State basketball would have been like had coach Dana Altman stayed longer than four years in Manhattan?)

However, my Ahearn Filedhouse argument seems irrelevant when one considers that K-State holds a 225-84 record in its newest home, including 10-1 this season. Those numbers give KU's dominance even more weight.

And through the years, K-State had its chances to break that streak.

The first win, in 1984, was a 63-61 KU decision. In 1987, KU won, 80-75, in double overtime in Ahearn. I remember being in the third grade and staying up late to watch KU big man Danny Manning battle K-State's big guy, Norris Coleman. Of course, that's also when the Wildcats boasted the likes of Mitch Richmond. Kansas beat K-State in 1989, Bramlage Coliseum's first season, 75-74, in yet another game that went to overtime. That was the year KU was on NCAA probation, too.

In 1992, Kansas again won a nail-biter, thanks to a late Steve Woodberry basket that helped the Jayhawks to a 54-52 victory.

And in 1997, KU escaped with a 62-59 win.

Then there was this year's game, on the 20th anniversary of the Wildcats spoiling another KU streak - a 55-game home winning streak the Jayhawks had held in Allen Fieldhouse.

On Wednesday, though, the No. 22-ranked Wildcats were the superior squad to the No. 2 Jayhawks.

When Wildcat freshman Bill Walker hit that bank shot three-pointer in the second half, I knew at that moment I needed to start bidding farewell to one of my good friends during the last 24 years - T. Streak.

Oh well, perhaps a sibling will be born when the Jayhawks visit Bramlage Coliseum next year.

Either way, the rivalry became a bit spicier with K-State's recent landmark victory.

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