NCAA Tournament

Kentucky is kryptonite to KU fans’ superstitions

A team of destiny needs its mojo.

That’s what Jayhawks fans tried to generate all night — and even during the afternoon — across the Kansas City area.

The first customers to claim a seat at Johnny’s Tavern in Prairie Village arrived at 1 p.m., said Shelly Kuhasz, general manger. Customers were observant of the protocol posted on the restaurant’s front door, spelling out how and under what circumstances seats or tables could be saved.

That was important to Dan Donegan of Leawood, who arrived at Johnny’s at 5 p.m. to claim a particular round table near a specific wall-mounted television — the same spot where he had watched Kansas advance to the finals on Saturday.

“This was good luck all during the Ohio State game,” said Donegan, who wore a T-shirt with the command “Party Like It’s 1988!”, a reference to the Jayhawks’ championship run during Donegan’s freshman year.

But with Kansas down double digits at the end of the first half, some fans were changing up their voodoo.

Jason Lloyd of Leawood was out the door at halftime, headed home so he could put on the long-sleeved red shirt he wore when Kansas won the national championship in 2008. He also said he would shave, because he had shaved at halftime of the Kansas-Ohio State game, and everybody knew what happened after that.

Still others were trying to conjure similar luck downtown in the Power & Light District, where Kansas fans watched the game on the big screen under the glow of blinking blue and crimson lights.

Inside McFadden’s Sports Saloon, Courtney and David Cox of Kearney were perched at the same seats they had occupied during Kansas’ championship victory over Memphis in 2008. But it wasn’t working this time.

“We still have 9 minutes left,” she said.

“KU is the underdog; they have nothing to lose,” he said.

But no interviews were being granted about the 4:00 mark, when Tyshawn Taylor hit a driving basket and then hit the free throw. From that point there was pain, brief exhilaration, and more pain until the end, when fans hugged, exchanged gentle high-fives and said they were proud of their team.

“But Kentucky played a better game,” said Michael Yocum of Gladstone. “You’ve got to give it to them.”