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10 reasons why Kansas-Oklahoma was the best college basketball game in recent memory

College basketball fans may have seen the best game of the 2015-16 season, or any other recent season, Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The odds of any marquee college basketball game falling short of expectations are always going to be greater than the odds of that game being a classic. That's especially true when said game is being played on a Monday night in early January, a time where teams haven't yet adjusted to the grind of conference play and the rest of the American public still has its collective sights set on football.

Having said all that, the sports world is still buzzing over what took place Monday night in Lawrence, Kan., and with good reason. Kansas and Oklahoma, the two top-rated teams in the country, played a three-overtime thriller that has left college hoops fans scrambling to think of a recent regular season game that might be superior.

Here are the 10 biggest reasons why people can't stop talking about the Jayhawks' 109-106 win.

1. These are the two best teams in college basketball right now

The defining storyline of the 2015-16 season to date has been the notion that there are no great teams in college basketball, just a handful of good ones with the potential to be great. Parity is supposedly reigning supreme, which means we should be geared up to see a top-five team going down every time we glance at the national scoreboard for the next two months.

That being the case, it almost feels odd that the nation's two No. 1 teams -- Kansas in the AP Top-25 and Oklahoma in the coaches' poll -- appear to so obviously be the class of the sport right now (at least while Denzel Valentine is out at Michigan State).

Are there other teams in the conversation for being the nation's best? Sure. Maryland is terrific, and Sparty is expected to get Valentine back at some point in the next week. Are there other teams that we know are going to be right there at or near the top once March rolls around? No question. North Carolina is right there lurking, Kentucky seems to have turned a corner and Duke is going to be right in the mix once Amile Jefferson re-enters the fold.

As things stand right at this very moment, however, it's awfully tough to make the argument that we weren't watching the two best teams in college basketball go toe to toe Monday night inside Allen Fieldhouse. That makes the 55 competitive minutes the two teams played that much more special.

2. Buddy Hield's performance

A season ago, Buddy Hield was the Big 12 Player of the Year and a third-team AP All-American. Even so, the commonly held belief that he was little more than a spot-up shooter bothered Hield so much that he essentially dedicated his entire offseason to becoming a more well-rounded offensive threat.

The fruits of that labor were on full display Monday evening, as Hield posted 46 points -- the most of any visiting player in Lawrence since 1962 -- a number he reached by scoring in a variety of different ways.

The man was also  on the floor for 54 of the game's 55 minutes. Hield's national Player of the Year campaign may have been the third biggest winner on Monday night behind the Kansas Jayhawks and any fan of college basketball.

3. The Big 12 title implications

After just a week of conference play, Kansas already finds itself in the spot where it's the most comfortable: the driver's seat headed towards yet another Big 12 regular season title. Six of the other 10 teams in the league have already tasted defeat, including the Jayhawks' two top challengers, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

The last time KU's name didn't end up on the Big 12 championship trophy, Louisville and Cincinnati were members of Conference USA, LeBron James was in the middle of his rookie season in the NBA and SB Nation did not exist. Just two programs have dominated their conference in this fashion before: UCLA, which won the Pac-12 for 13 straight seasons (1967-79), and Gonzaga, which saw its 11-year run atop the West Coast Conference end in 2011. John Wooden was only in Westwood for the first nine of those Bruin championships, which means Bill Self is just one title away from becoming the first coach ever to win 12 straight.

To get there, it's a safe bet that Self and company are going to have to pull out at least one or two more regular season classics. Still, they once again have a nice head start on their toughest challengers.

4. There was controversy

It wouldn't be an instant classic if there wasn't at least a small helping of controversy.

For Kansas/Oklahoma, the bulk of that controversy came when Frank Mason Jr. stole Hield's inbounds pass with 12 seconds left in the third overtime to all but lock up the victory for Kansas. Defenders are supposed to prohibited from reaching within three feet of the inbounder, and it certainly appeared as though Mason was much closer to Hield than that.

Mason didn't exactly play innocent after game.

"Right before the play started the ref told me not to get close to the line," he said. "But after he handed the ball in, there was nothing he could do. So I took a step closer and went all out on the deny. I got a deflection and the steal."

Of course the game might never have gotten to that point had Devonte' Graham not realized at the last possible second that he wasn't supposed to be on the floor with 2.4 seconds to play in the first overtime.

That would have been a much worse way for this one to end.

5. Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots

Kansas and Oklahoma combined to attempt 182 field goals in Monday night's game, the highest combined total from any Division-I game this season. That just makes it all the more impressive that both teams shot better than 40 percent from the field, and were a combined 27 for 55 (49.1 percent) from behind the 3-point line.

6. Kansas basketball embarrassed its gridiron counterpart

And that's always fun.

7. Some of the crowd at Allen Fieldhouse stuck around to give Hield a standing ovation

After his 46-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance, Hield was asked to hang around and do a postgame interview on ESPN's "SportsCenter." Many members of the Kansas contingent inside Allen Fieldhouse stuck around as well, and they showed their appreciation for the effort that Hield had displayed once his interview had wrapped up.

8. Khadeem Lattin slipped and kicked Jordan Woodard

The  Hield and Wayne Selden highlights are cool and all, but this is the best Vine from Monday night:

9. Dick Vitale called the environment the loudest he'd ever heard

Love him or hate him, there's no debate that Dick Vitale has been in the building for a lot college basketball's biggest and best games over the last four decades. That being the case, when Vitale remarked during the second half of Monday night's game that the Kansas crowd was the loudest he'd ever heard, it was a comment that resonated.

With all do respect to Cameron Indoor Stadium and the other college basketball cathedrals, the sport might not have a better setting than Allen Fieldhouse, which is why it was the perfect setting for one of the best games in recent memory.

10. We get to do this again in five weeks

Kansas at Oklahoma. Feb. 13. Clear your schedules.