We're all hopeful that Kevin Durant's time at Texas hasn't ended, but we're all well aware that the lures of the NBA will be extremely difficult to pass up. In case it is the last we've seen of KD at Texas, let's pay tribute to the greatness that was his freshman season on the 40 Acres.
Below are the Top 10 Games of the Kevin Durant era. There were a lot of unbelievably great games to choose from, including at least a half dozen performances not included on this list that would be a career day for the best player on most other teams. KD was that good, that often, at Texas.
10. St. John's (Coaches vs Cancer Invitational - Madison Square Garden)
29 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 5-6 3PFG
Kevin's second night on basketball's most famous basketball court was a stunning performance, and the first time Texas fans knew this kid was really special. He hit two NBA three pointers that had spectators gawking at what they were watching. Texas won 77-76.
32 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks
At this point in the season, Kevin had already proven his freakish scoring abilities, but he put on a show in Austin on this Saturday afternoon. After a so-so first half, Kevin came out roaring in the second half by scoring five straight Texas baskets, the last on a monstrous dunk. Then, after carelessly turning the ball over to the Wildcats, a frustrated Durant swatted three straight layup attempts by Kansas State, refusing to concede points off of his mistake. It was as dominant a five minute stretch of basketball as I've ever seen.
8. Colorado (Boulder)
37 points, 16 rebounds, 5-7 3PFG
Kevin Durant: meet Big 12. Big 12: Kevin Durant. In his first ever conference game, Durant lit up the Buffalos for a career high 37 points, officially announcing to the league that he was -the- force to be reckoned with. I was driving my girlfriend to the San Antonio airport and listening to the game on the radio. Play by play man Craig Way started running out of superlatives to use on Kevin midway through the second half, at which point he just started looking up records that Kevin could shatter.
7. Texas A&M (Austin)
30 points, 16 rebounds, 4-6 3PFG
Kevin's monstrous night was overshadowed a little bit by the otherworldly late game heroics of Acie Law, but up until Law tied the game with a miracle three, it was all Durant. The Longhorns picked up their best win of the season in Austin behind a majestic performance from KD, who was feeling it from the outside, working incredibly hard on defense, and willing his teammates to victory. His three point shot with 23 seconds left in regulation looked like the proverbial dagger and would have been the lead on SportsCenter had Law not hit an even bigger shot.
6. Kansas (Lawrence)
32 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks
We're all left to wonder what might have been had Kevin not twisted his ankle in the second half of Texas' trip to Lawrence. Durant put up the single best half of basketball I've ever seen - a 25 point performance that stunned 16,000 Jayhawk fans in attendance. Durant would return from his ankle sprain to limp through the final eight minutes of the game, but he was clearly troubled by the injury and never got back in a good rhythm.
5. Texas A&M (College Station)
28 points, 15 rebounds, 4-8 3PFG, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals
The Aggies pulled away from a gassed Texas team late, but Durant willed the Longhorns into a lead halfway through the second period. He hit three pointers, he defended the lane, he made Dickie V use adjectives even he'd never used before. NBA scouts who watch tape of this game will find it impossible not to covet Kevin Durant.
4. Oklahoma State (Stillwater)
37 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals
Another game in which Durant's incredible performance was overshadowed slightly by the late game heroics of another standout player on the opposition. Texas lost this triple overtime thriller to Oklahoma State when Keith Boggans made an improbable three point basket with 2 seconds left on the clock, capping a 37 point, 20 rebound performance of his own. Despite Boggans unbelievable night, Durant was the best player on the floor once again, pushing himself and his teammates to the brink of a great road upset. (Oklahoma State was still playing well, at this point.) Durant scored 7 points in the first overtime period, 5 in the second overtime, and 3 in the final extra period, including the go ahead dunk before Boggans' huge shot.
3. Baylor (Big 12 Quarterfinals)
29 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks
Texas trailed Baylor by 20 points in this game, an outcome Durant simply could not, and would not, accept. He came out in the second half with as much energy, focus, and determination as I've ever seen from a college athlete, positively willing Texas to a comeback victory. He scored at a ridiculous rate, he led a nasty, full court press that suffocated Baylor's guards, and he provided leadership that you only see from the rarest of champions. Think about how Rudy Gay is perceived. Now think about the polar opposite. That was Kevin Durant.
2. Texas Tech (Lubbock)
37 points, 23 rebounds, 3 steals, 5-9 three pointers
This may have been Kevin's most beautiful all-around performance of the season, as he was scoring at will on the Red Raiders in every possible way. Step back three pointers. Driving dunks. Fadeaway 15 footers. Texas Tech simply had no answer for Durant, and he absolutely took over the game. There were points when Kevin would call for the ball, take it, and you just sort of thought to yourself, "I wonder how he'll score this time?" And then he'd do something different. It was a stunning performance.
1. Kansas (Big 12 championship)
37 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 6 blocks
Durant ran out of energy by the overtime period, but he was an unstoppable force through all of regulation, hitting clutch shots, playing tremendous defense, and pushing his teammates to the brink of a Big 12 championship. By the end, it was probably the best performance in Big 12 tournament history.