What a year 2004 was. You remember it, right? The year Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook (which was still in its extreme infancy) from his Harvard dormitory; the year Usher often spent his days atop the Billboard Hot 100, for hits like "Yeah!", "Burn" and "My Boo" ("Yeah" is still a banger, do not tell me otherwise); the year "Napoleon Dynamite" was released and Uncle Rico became an instant legend.
Seem like a distant memory? That's because it is. Fifteen years ago was a lifetime ago. That's what makes Kansas basketball's Big 12 title streak of 14 consecutive seasons, which officially ended Tuesday night in an 81-68 loss to Oklahoma, so remarkable. It's a Division I NCAA record that outpaced even the great John Wooden teams at UCLA, and one that won't be surpassed anytime soon.
Led by Kristian Doolittle's 24 points and 11 rebounds, the Sooners led by as many 24 points as they won for the fourth time in their past five games. The loss eliminated Kansas (27-12, 1-5) from the Big 12 title race. The last time Kansas did not win at least a share of the regular-season conference title was in 2003-04, when Oklahoma State captured the crown. Kansas State and Texas Tech are tied for the lead in the Big 12 with 13-4 league records and one game remaining for each team.
The Streak, as it is called, had some help being pushed off the ledge this season. Kansas lost big man Udoka Azubuike for the season in December, when he was putting up 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Several weeks later, in February, second-leading scorer Lagerald Vick took an extended leave of absence -- and he still hasn't returned. Vick has missed seven consecutive games, and his return at this point is unclear.
KU doesn't need any excuses, to be sure. Every team deals with injuries or attrition -- or both. And Kansas State or Texas Tech will gladly take the crown, no questions asked. But how incredible is it that KU, with all it has endured, still had a shot to extend its streak with a tie this late in the season? (I'll answer that for you: It's pretty incredible.)
Kansas as a program has been through some moments during that span, too. It won a national title in 2008, defeating John Calipari and Memphis. It got to three Final Fours, with the most recent trip coming just last season. And it has been a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament each season, including earning a No. 1 seed eight times. Now, officially, The Streak will end after 5,116 days. What a run it was.