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Guys! It’s that time of year again: BASKETBALL IS BACK IN LAWRENCE.

We can finally stop crying about football season and focus on the better things in life. (I mean, that game last night, WOW.) If you didn’t already know that Late Night in the Phog takes place Saturday night, you’ve been living under a rock. Or maybe you choose to root for lesser schools like Kansas State and Missouri *ahem*. (I’ve been counting down the days since July, I think.)

It’s been four years since I’ve made my way to Late Night; I tried my sophomore year of college but because of a chaotic bunch, I wasn’t able to get in. After that, I didn’t feel like waiting in line all day only to not make it into the Fieldhouse. This year, I’ve made my return to the Kansas City-area, so I plan to attend. (Plus, I’ve been hyped up for the season since it ended in March…)

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My first Late Night.

Late Night includes so many of my favorite things about Kansas basketball. It’s a tradition unlike any other — Kansas State or Missouri, I think, has tried to hold something like this before, but do people really care about a “practice”? Allen Fieldhouse is always at capacity for this practice on a Friday (now, Saturday) night. Students and fans line up hours prior to the doors opening for a practice. Think about that. It’s crazy. The night is useful for two things: recruiting and watching the new talent.

Kansas fans will get their first look at the newest additions: Josh Jackson and Udoka Azubuike. Sure, it’s like a spring game of sorts, if you’re more familiar with football terms. The team scrimmages each other, obviously, but I prefer to believe it’s more exciting than any spring game I’ve ever watched. It’s also important to note that Jackson is already a favorite to be a first round pick in this year’s draft. (Though, don’t get me started on one-and-dones…) Jackson was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2016 recruits, and he’s easily comparable to Andrew Wiggins. Man, this’ll be fun. Kansas fans will see Jackson filling in the “big man” role for Carlton Bragg — who’s most certainly replacing Perry Ellis’ role.

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Bill is a stud.

And Azubuike? Well, he’s like the Joel Embiid of the group. Azubuike is ranked 27th in his class — and is the real big man. He stands at 7-feet tall. I expected to see him grabbing rebounds, and hopefully, making some excellent gif-worthy blocks. *Dikembe Mutombo finger-wag*

The best part about it all? Watching the players’ skits and seeing what interesting costume Coach Bill Self rolls out in. My freshman year, he entered the Fieldhouse on a motorcycle. He’s worn gold chains, and he’s dressed like Wiggins. What’s next? Rob Riggle and former Kansas basketball alum have showed up a few times to MC. This year, Tech N9ne will perform.

This year’s Late Night will feature a recognition ceremony-of-sorts for the unprecedented 12-time Big 12 champion Jayhawks. (And of course, there’ll be much talk of a 13th straight win.)

Then, the women’s team will perform a skit and dance routine, which will be followed by their scrimmage. The men’s team will follow them with the same lineup. I think I’m most excited to return to the Phog and witness the hype video in person — it’s been too long.

Plus, we’ll get to see plenty of dancing/costumes like this:

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ANN WILLIAMSON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL The seniors, from left, Roderick Stewart, Brad Withersoon, Darnell Jackson, Jeremy Case and Sasha Kaun, dance as Russell Robinson sings "New York, New York," during the University of Kansas basketball programs' Late Night at Allen Fieldhouse, Friday, Oct. 12, 2007, this is the start to the 2007-08 basketball season.

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Late Night starts at 6:30 pm and runs until 9:30 pm. Doors open at 5:30 pm to the general public. Admission is free but get there early if you expect to have a seat. It’s gonna be a full house. *Ain’t no seats!* 

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Questions? Comments? Leave one below or find Heather on @sprotstakes  or @heatherahh19

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