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'We’re national champions, baby!' KU fans celebrate Jayhawks' historic title win

Fans screaming with outstretched arms.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Fans celebrate as the last seconds tick off the big screen in Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night.

Fans were loud and elated during the early minutes of a watch party at Allen Fieldhouse, but quieted as the North Carolina Tar Heels stormed to a 15-point first half lead. “Then in the second half. It was insane,” one fan said.

About 9,000 fans experienced a roller coaster Monday night inside Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, where the University of Kansas hosted a watch party for the NCAA men's basketball championship game in New Orleans.

Fans poured onto the court when they thought the game had ended, but had to stand in suspended animation, putting the party on hold until the North Carolina Tar Heels missed their final shot with added time.

KU fans pour onto the floor at the Fieldhouse when it first looked like the team would win the championship.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
KU fans pour onto the floor at the Fieldhouse when it first looked like the team would win the championship.

Kansas staged a 16-point comeback, the largest in NCAA championship history, for its 72–69 victory over North Carolina.

“Insanity. Way too close,” Chris Krogll said. “It’s one of the few games I’ve seen on campus live. The first half was godawful.”

Thousands of people fill a basketball court. Many with arms in air holding cell phones.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Fans fill the court at Allen Fieldhouse after the game officially was over. Fans had taken to the court too early and had to wait for the Jayhawks to shoot one last attempt before they could officially celebrate.

Walking out of the Fieldhouse afterward, Krogll said he planned to “to go run rampant. Go nuts.”

Fans spent the early minutes of the evening elated and loud but slowly quieted when the Tar Heels stormed to a 15-point first half lead.

“We were kind of scared in the first half,” said Chloe Weber, a psychology freshman. “Then in the second half, it was insane.”

A woman wearing blue University of Kansas clothing holds her hands on her head with an exasperated look
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Shae Schiff-Clark nervously watches the last seconds wind inside Allen Fieldhouse.

“It’s our first year here,” Weber said while walking outside Allen Fieldhouse with a friend. “This is so special for us to be able to have that experience of winning a national championship.”

Early Monday afternoon, KU fans began lining up at bars and restaurants and milling around a blocked-off Massachusetts Street, turning the downtown area into a pedestrian mall.

About a mile away, fans were lining up to fill Allen Fieldhouse.

Man with blue and red beard screaming with excitement at his son.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Michael McCurdy screams with excitement at his son, also named Michael, as they watched the Jayhawks pull ahead late in the second half.

“We’re national champions, baby!” Zaeem Siddiqui screamed outside the Fieldhouse as fans streamed out of the building, most on their way to Massachusetts Street.

The junior aerospace engineering student transferred to KU from Georgia State but grew up a Jayhawks fan. His father attended KU in the ‘90s.

“I came for one reason only, and that was to win a national championship,” he said. “And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

“I have an exam tomorrow, but we’re partying all night,” he said.

KU officials announced an official celebration Tuesday from 4 to 5 p.m. at Booth Memorial Stadium.

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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