‘There’s no place like home’ for KU basketball team after experiencing a scare in the air

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TOPEKA, Kan. -- The KU Men's Basketball team landed safely at Topeka's Forbes Field, but a day later than they were supposed to.

It was an unsettling 24 hours for coaches and players to say the least. Their flight home Sunday, following a win at Stanford, was cut short due to plane troubles.

"It was scary while you're in the situation," forward Mitchell Lightfoot said.

The team's plane had to make an emergency landing Sunday. Coach Bill Self said about 60 people were on board.

"I don't even know what I was thinking," Lightfoot said, "just praying hard and hoping we were back on earth."

About 20 minutes into their flight from California, one of the engines failed. Lightfoot said he felt the plane tilt.

"There was just like sparks coming from one of the wings," Lighfoot said.

Self, sitting up front, didn't see the window view of sparks flying out of the wing but said he definitely heard the engine go out.

"It was a pretty loud sound and certainly a lot of vibrations," Self said. "I think it did rattle us initially, but everybody was so calm. It turned out to be not as significant as what it could have been."

The pilot immediately contacted the San Jose Airport where they returned and made a safe landing.

"Kudos to the pilots," Self said. "It was a nervous time for a short amount of time, and we're counting our blessings."

A day later, on Monday, the team landed safely in Kansas. Self said they are ready to hit the court running.

"It feels good," Self said. "I mean, the fact that we committed 14 turnovers the first half really didn't matter much."

Lightfoot said he made a mistake not texting his mom before getting on that plane.

"I usually text her like, 'Love you, bye. I'm taking off,' before I take off," Lightfoot said. "It was like the one time I didn't."

But she was the first person he texted when the team landed.

"Can't take anything for granted," Lightfoot said. "It was a crazy situation, and I'm glad to be back in Lawrence. Can't wait to get back to my bed on campus."

Self said it will not effect their practice schedule.

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