Allen Fieldhouse delivers wild atmosphere in Missouri-Kansas game

Saturday, February 25, 2012 | 9:08 p.m. CST; updated 9:42 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 25, 2012
Kansas fans celebrate after beating Missouri in 87-86 in overtime at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., on Saturday.

LAWRENCE, Kan. – White lettering stands out on the glass doors leading into the building: “Welcome to Allen Fieldhouse, the greatest home-court advantage in all of college basketball!”

Before the stands are filled, the bright, wooden red and blue bleachers shock your vision. Walking from the newly renovated exterior into the fieldhouse that was dedicated in 1955, it’s like stepping back in time, a piece of history preserved.

Kansas fans aren’t forgetting their history any time soon, especially where Missouri is concerned. Those in the front row of the student section painted their stomachs to read “John Brown KU” to reference the abolitionist who took up arms as a means to abolish slavery in the United States.

As Missouri’s starting lineup is read, the student section held up foldout sections of a newspaper with a cartoon of a Jayhawk standing on a tiger and lifting a rifle and holding the NCAA national basketball championship trophy into the air. Underneath, it reads “Missouri SECedes.”

They crumpled up the foldouts as the last Missouri name was announced, and some threw the paper wads into the air.

When the Kansas lineup is announced, the newspapers turn into confetti that soon littered the floor. The facilities workers began sweeping up the pieces before the student section has finished throwing them.

The decibel reading for the building hit 120.2, the same as standing in the front row at a rock concert.

But once the game began, the back-and-forth action between Missouri and Kansas changed the crowd’s reaction. There were more jeers than cheers, more sitting than standing. 

Kansas head coach Bill Self wouldn’t place the first 30 minutes of the game among some of the best atmospheres in the fieldhouse, but all that changed as Kansas chipped away at Missouri’s double-digit lead in the second half.

With two and a half minutes left, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson completed a layup. Everything started to shake. Fans stomped, pounded.

Before overtime began, a video flashed across the jumbo screen: “Listen. Do you hear that? The nation’s loudest fieldhouse just got louder.”

A shriek of panic from a Kansas fan sliced through the air right before Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor made a jump shot. It was met with an affirming roar.

“Just the fact that this one went into overtime, every play was so big,” Missouri senior guard Marcus Denmon said.

Now, noise inundated every inch of the fieldhouse. Fans in every section stayed standing, forming a human wall wearing royal blue that circled the court.

Self said the atmosphere in the fieldhouse has “never been better” than in those minutes of overtime.

The Kansas band belted out Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” during a timeout, the fans echoing the chorus that reverberated throughout the fieldhouse.

“I talked to one of my best friends after the last game, and he told me, ‘Next time you see them, you’re going to be in a bigger situation, and it’s going to mean more.’ He was absolutely right,’” Taylor said.

Long after the final buzzer had sounded, fans remained in the fieldhouse, following every move the players made and responding with thunderous applause as Self exited, pumping his fists in the air.

“It’s a great rivalry,” Self said. “It’s two schools that truthfully don’t like each other hooking up and going at it. We saw the best they had to offer in Columbia. They saw the best we have to offer, maybe for the next 10 years, in the building."

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