A day after he suffered a strained patellar tendon in his left knee
during Saturday’s semifinal against Texas A&M and
scored just four points, Chalmers had the best game of his life to lead
to a Big 12 Tournament Championship victory over Texas at the
The junior guard scored a career-high 30 points, with his last five
points coming in the final two minutes to help seal the victory. With
KU up just 72-71 (1:52 remaining) and the partisan KU crowd chanting
“Let’s Go Jayhawks,” Chalmers hit a
three-point bomb and pumped his fist in the air. Then with the
Longhorns down 78-73 and still clinging to hope with 40 seconds left,
Chalmers stole a D.J. Augstin pass, got fouled, and made two free
This game was over and KU was about to celebrate its third straight Big
12 Tournament Championship and third consecutive victory over the
Longhorns in the finals.
Somehow, it was only fitting that the ball was in Chalmers’
hands at the end of the game. After all, this was his game. Chalmers
dribbled the last few seconds off the clock as time expired. He threw
the ball in the air and raised his fist to the heavens.
KU won 84-74 and received a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Midwest Regional.
The Jayhawks (31-3) will play Portland State (23-9) this Thursday in
Chalmers outdueled the All-American Augstin, who scored 18 points (4-4
three-pointers) in the first half but only two after halftime. Chalmers
said he was pretty hyped to play against guards Augstin and A.J. Abrams
“Me and D.J. and Abrams all played together through high
school,” Chalmers said. “Anytime we played against
each other, we wanted to kill each other. Tonight, I was able to get
the best of them.”
Chalmers shot a scorching 10 of 15 from the field and eight of 12 from
three-point land. He also had six assists, four rebounds, and two
steals in 35 minutes. His 10 field goals and eight three balls were
both career highs.
“Mario said before the game that he wanted it,”
said senior teammate Darnell Jackson
. “He and D.J. were
trading baskets (in the first half), but I think Mario wanted it more
than D.J. Mario carried the whole team. He was ready to go from the
Indeed, he was. Chalmers didn’t wait long to start the show.
On KU’s first possession, he rebounded a missed jumper by
and swished a three-pointer eight seconds later at the
19:23 mark. Chalmers hit four more three-pointers the first half for 17
points, missing just one field goal in seven attempts.
And then he helped carry KU again after halftime. With Texas leading
49-47, Chalmers ripped off eight straight points for Kansas, including
two three-point bombs and a fastbreak layup.
When Chalmers wasn’t scoring, junior guard Brandon Rush and
sophomore forward Darrell Arthur
picked up the slack. Rush scored 19
points one day after his career-high 28 versus Texas A&M, while
Arthur had 16 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Sherron Collins
also had nine points and hit a key three-pointer with over five minutes
remaining to give KU a 70-69 lead.
“Yesterday, Brandon stepped up big for us,”
Chalmers said. “Tonight, everybody stepped up. We were
talking about it yesterday, that we were going to need a big game from
everybody and I think everybody continued to step up today.”
KU shot 58.6 percent in the first half. For the game, the Jayhawks hit
a scorching 60 percent (15-25) from three-point range.
“It was just our night, we were on fire,” Chalmers
None more so than Chalmers, who seemed to be completely healed from his
“I don’t think his knee bothered him too much
today,” KU coach Bill Self
said with a smile.
“Mario was fabulous, and he wasn’t good yesterday.
It’s kind of whoever (is hot has a big night). It makes such
a difference when you’re making shots. Of the two I would
pick to make shots for us, I would pick Brandon and Mario, because I
think they have the most capability of putting up big numbers, and I
think Sherron would probably be next.”
“He’s been pretty good against Texas most
games,” Self added about Chalmers. “He had a really
good game against Texas at home last year (21 points, including 5-5
three-pointers). Tonight was a great game for those two (Chalmers and
Rush) because Texas played so much zone, and we were able to get the
ball in the middle and play out of that.”
Senior guard Russell Robinson
was happy to see his backcourt mate have
a career game. Chalmers, whose previous career high was 23 (set twice),
entered the game averaging 11.8 points.
“I was surprised,” Robinson said. “You
almost expect him to have a big game, but I didn’t expect it
to be that big after his performance yesterday. He came out with a lot
of energy, and we need him to bring energy everytime. ...
He’s a big reason we won.”
KANSAS CITY, MO. — Mario Chalmers was in a zone. He was on fire. He was all-world.