Loud and proud. That’s how Jayhawks fans presented themselves as they flooded Mass Street after KU’s national championship win late Monday night.
The Tar Heels physically dominated the first half with rebounds, second-effort shots and free throws, going into the locker room at the half with a 15-point advantage.
The task seemed insurmountable for the Jayhawks when the second half began. Then Ochai Agbaji stuffed the ball and the Jayhawks began their comeback. They chipped away at the lead purposefully and methodically, winning 72-69.
North of 11th and Massachusetts streets, revelers danced, cheered and laissez les bon temps rouler — let the good times roll — as their hoops heroes cut down the nets in New Orleans.
Garrison Matthews, a KU alum twice over, grinned as he celebrated with friends outside the Granada, calling the drive from Wichita “well worth it.”
Matthews described the feeling after a tough first half and a “heartbreaking” loss to Villanova in 2018 in the NCAA semifinals.
“I was so proud of this team. I did not expect much out of them at the beginning of the season but hope grew and grew throughout the season. I’m so proud and so excited.”
As droves of young people ran north on Mass Street, a few families lingered in the crowd.
Silas Shaffer, a fifth-grader at St. John Catholic School, described the scene as “madness.” He said even with a 15-point halftime deficit, he had hope the Jayhawks could pull off the win.
“I thought if (David) McCormack didn’t foul out, we would definitely have a good chance,” Silas said. “It feels great.”
Next to Silas, Elliott Shaffer, a seventh-grader at West Middle School, said he enjoyed the win not only because he’s a Jayhawk fan but also because his math teacher is a North Carolina fan.
Neither Silas nor Elliott had been born when KU won its last men’s national title in 2008, so tonight was special.
Their cheers turned to boos, however, when they were told they would not be missing school tomorrow.
Jennifer Huynh drove from Kansas City to watch the game. She earned a degree at KU in 2021 and called the moment “absolutely amazing” and “exhilarating.”
“Honestly, the best day to experience just being here at Lawrence coming back to my college town and experiencing everything going on at Mass Street. It feels good to be home.”
The fun isn’t over after Monday night, though. There’ll be stories shared, new merch and celebrations to come — maybe even a parade.