Sunflower Showdown: KU and K-State fans pack downtown KC for Big 12 semifinal game

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Basketball fans packed the Sprint Center on Friday night for one of the biggest local rivalry games of the year.

Nicknamed the Sunflower Showdown, the Kansas State Wildcats and the Kansas Jayhawks took to the hardwood in the Big 12 Tournament.

“It’s probably one of the biggest games around because it’s a rivalry," Kansas State fan Lucas Plunkett said. "They are only two hours apart from one another. This is the third time they’ve played.”

A sea of purple and red filled the area as fans of both teams showed support. Some homes were divided with friends and loved ones rooting for different teams.

“My dad taught for KU for a lot of years, so I grew up being a Jayhawk and just never had any reason to change,” KU fan Marcy Lang said.

Her husband, however, has a different allegiance.

“I was born and raised K-State, bleed Purple through and through,” Ron Lang said.

From husbands and wives to brothers and sisters, there were plenty of homes divided over this game.

“I went to KU. KU is better at basketball," Whitney Plunkett said. "You have to root for KU. If you don’t, then we can’t be friends."

Whitney and Lucas Plunkett

Whitney Plunkett said even though her mom, dad, and brother are Kansas State fans, she still roots for the Jayhawks.

“I love K-State, and I always have. And yes, they’re a football school, but I think they’re gonna win tonight,” she said of KU.

Whitney and her brother Lucas, like many others, have a lot riding on these two teams.

“I’ll jump for joy. I’ll probably cry if they win. I’ll probably cry if they lose,” Lucas said.

In the end, No. 9 Kansas beat short-handed Kansas State 83-67 on Friday night. The Jayhawks will now head to the Big 12 Tournament title game.

Most friends and couples who were rooting for opposite teams say they’ll go back to being friends now that the game has ended.

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