Shouting “We’re No. 1!” amid the crackle of fireworks and the blast of car horns, thousands of people swarmed over the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kan., Monday night in celebration of the Jayhawks winning the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. basketball championship.
“It was the best script Danny Manning could have ever written,” said Don Robertson, a senior at Kansas. “They were underdogs, they pulled together, and decided they wanted to win and won it all.”
Manning scored 31 points in the 83-79 win over Oklahoma that gave Kansas its second NCAA basketball championship. The Sooners beat the Jayhawks twice in Big Eight Conference play, but couldn’t make it three in a row.
“What does it mean to beat Oklahoma?” said Scott Vickers, a senior at Kansas. “It means they’re No. 2.”
Jayhawk Boulevard, the main street on the university campus, was closed by police after revelers began moving into the area shortly after the game. One police officer estimated more than 8,000 people were at the scene.
The celebration in Lawrence, located 40 miles from the site of the championship game at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., continued into the night. University officials announced that today’s classes would be canceled.
“We congratulate Coach (Larry) Brown and his basketball squad,” Judith A. Ramaley, the university’s executive vice chancellor, said in a statement. “We are delighted with their success and we appreciate the fine way they have represented the University of Kansas.
“They have demonstrated courage and commitment in overcoming the adversities they have faced this season. We all can learn something from their example.”
A rally welcoming the basketball team back to Lawrence was scheduled today at Allen Fieldhouse. A parade through downtown Lawrence was planned by officials for April 13.
University of Oklahoma fans in Norman, Okla., who watched their second disappointing championship game this year, said Monday they were saddened by the basketball loss to Kansas in the NCAA finals, but proud of the team for exceeding expectations for the season.
“It was good game,” said Gary Smith, a bartender at Denco’s cafe in Norman, where a crowd gathered to watch Oklahoma’s loss to Kansas. “I can’t wait until the guys get back. They come in the restaurant quite a bit. I’ll shake their hands. They don’t need to hold their heads down at all. We’re proud of them.”
Smith said the crowd disappeared quickly and quietly from Denco’s after the final buzzer.
“We had a full house, and as soon as the game was over they all just hit the door. It was kind of a mass exodus,” Smith said. “There’s not much celebrating right now.”
Irish Gipson, an employee of O’Connell’s Irish Pub next to the Oklahoma campus, said the crowd left there quickly, too, but a few customers stayed behind to drown their sorrows.
Gipson said coming so close to a championship twice in one year “hurts real bad,” but he said he remains a loyal fan of the football and basketball teams. Oklahoma’s football team lost to Miami (Fla.), 20-14, in a showdown for the national championship at the Orange Bowl Jan. 1.
“You’ve got to love them Sooners,” Gipson said. “We were pre-ranked No. 17. We beat Kansas twice. We’re going to be No. 2 even though we beat them twice.”
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team lost to Kansas in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament Saturday, later discovered his home in Durham, N.C., had been burglarized and the family car stolen Friday night.
Police said a door at the Krzyzewski home had been kicked in, and the keys to his automobile were taken. The car was stolen from the driveway.
The car was then driven to the scene of another break-in of a home. The car was later found abandoned.
Police learned early Saturday the vehicle belonged to Krzyzewski, but decided not to tell him about the incident until after the Duke-Kansas game.
No arrests have been made, police said.