Brian Graham & Josh Campos, KC SportsNation
First, let me preface this by saying, at some point it will sink in that this might be the last time the two schools play in Columbia for a LONG time.
And that just plain sucks.
But, you couldn’t ask for much better circumstances – in what is one of the biggest regular season matchups between the rivals ever.
Both teams in the Top 10 for only the third time ever – and first time since 1990, when the Tigers were the No. 2 team both times, knocking off No. 1 Kansas and sweeping the season series, College GameDay, a Big 12 title in contention.
But hell, do we really need another reason? Its MU-KU – the greatest rivalry in college basketball.
This game has a “different” feel. Maybe its the idea that it could be the last one in Columbia for a long time. Maybe its that Missouri is actually ranked ahead of Kansas, and favored (-3). Either team could make the Final Four.
A Missouri win, and they will be in a likely three-way tie for first place with KU and Baylor (who is at Oklahoma State today) having already beat Baylor on the road, while KU still has to go to Waco and Manhattan. Missouri also has won at Iowa State, the fourth place team, while Kansas lost.
A Missouri loss, and Kansas may very well be on their way to an eighth straight conference title.
“If you want to win a Big 12 Championship,” said senior Kim English, “it has to go through Kansas.”
And Missouri will get its chance today to having its chance to win the conference crown in their last year before going to the SEC.
“There is nothing I want more than to win both games this year and to win the conference championship, more than anything to send our seniors out on top,” Flip Pressey added.
Hopefully today will be a memorable game.
Before we break down the game, lets do some reminiscing.
AS a Missouri fan, man have there been some great memories in this rivalry:
- MU wins 79-76 when a brawl erupts – a carry over from football season.
- Lee Coward’s buzzer beater – his second that year against Kansas – gives Mizzou a Big 8 Conference Tournament championship in 1987.
- 1989 – Missouri registered the largest victory by a visitor in Allen Fieldhouse, winning 91-66 over Kansas under first-year coach Roy Williams.
- Peeler, as mentioned earlier, scoring 43 points in Lawrence in 1990, as the No. 2 Tigers beat the No. 1 Jayhawks, completing the season sweep. Dick Vitale land Roy Williams both labeled Peeler a “left-handed Michael Jordan.”
Here is a link to the game in Columbia: http://www.mutigers.com/allaccess/?media=295646
- There was completing the season sweep in 1994 (the last time Missouri has done so) as Mizzou went undefeated in the Big 8.
- 1996 – Missouri upsets the #3 Jayhawks in Columbia 77-73. This is the first of three straight years that a top 3 or higher ranked KU team will lose at MU.
- The 1997 two-overtime thriller as a 13-10 Missouri upset an undefeated and top ranked Kansas team when Corey Tate picked up a loose ball and drilled the game-winner, in what was the biggest upset in Border War history. Later that year, Mizzou, as a 10-seed, pulled off three upsets in getting to the Big 12 Tourney finals, only to get rolled by Kansas. Man these Mizzou uniforms were awful:
- In 2000, Keyon Dooling “flies” at AFH but the dunk is erased thanks to an AWFUL charge call. Just awful. Roy Williams said after the game, “We saw him fly. All of us.” The loss was Quin Snyder’s first game in Lawrence and the start of an active 12-game losing streak in Lawrence. Missouri has not won at KU since Norm Stewart’s last regular season game, 71-63 in 1999.
- Earlier in 2000, Clarence Gilbert WENT off at the Hearnes Center, scoring 30 points and draining 8 3’s as Missour beats KU 81-59. Even Norm Stewart chuckled from the crowd.
- And who could forget Christian Moody missing two free throws with no time left on the clock, sending the game into overtime, where Missouri wins behind Thomas Gardner’s 40 points. Ironically, Missouri collapses after this game, and Quin Snyder never wins another game at Mizzou before resigning before season’s end. KU destroys Mizzou in the rematch, 91-65.
- And last, but not least, Zaire “Big Shot” Taylor’s buzzer beater sends Missouri to a 62-60 win as the first time the teams met both as ranked teams since 2003. Missouri trailed 30-16, but rallied furiously in the second half. In the rematch at Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas avenged its loss to Missouri 90-65. Like always, a close game in COMO and a blowout in Lawrence.
But, there have been many more memories for Kansas, who owns the all-time series almost 2-to-1, 171-94.
- KU has closed down Mizzou’s previous two arena’s (Brewer Fieldhouse and Hearnes Center). The memorable Scott Padgett game-winner in 2004 after Missouri battled back from 10-down in the second half to take a one-point lead behind Arthur Johnson’s 37.
- 1971 – Kansas defeats Missouri, 72-68 in overtime, to win the final game ever played at Brewer Fieldhouse. It brings the Jayhawks one step closer to a perfect Big 8 record (they later beat Nebraska to achieve the 14-0 mark.)
- 1972 – with Kansas having a poor season and Missouri trying for a Big 8 title, Bud Stallworth dropped 50 points on Missouri in the final regular season game of the year in a 93-80 Kansas win at AFH.
- 1995 – Kansas became the first visiting team to score 100 points in the Hearnes Center, winning 102-89.
- 2002 – At Allen Fieldhouse, KU headed to the locker room with a slim 43-42 halftime lead. The second half belonged to the Jayhawks, as they doubled up Mizzou 62-31 in the final 20 minutes en route to a 105-73 win. Kansas becomes the first and only Big 12 team to go a perfect 16-0 through the conference, concluding the season with a 95-92 win in Columbia.
- 2003 – During halftime of the KU-Texas basketball game, former MU coach Norm Stewart is presented a rocking chair by KU. A common chant in Allen Fieldhouse during “Stormin’ Norm’s” days with the Tigers was “Sit Down, Norm!” whenever he would jump off the bench to argue a call. The Fieldhouse crowd told him to “sit down, Norm!” one last time.
- 2007 – In Lawrence, Kansas freshman Sherron Collins – just like he would do in the National title game against Memphis – came off the bench for 23 points to thwart Missouri’s upset bid in an 80-77 win, the first MU-KU game for new Tiger coach Mike Anderson. In Columbia, the Jayhawks’ Julian Wright scored a career-best 33 in a 92-74 win, KU’s first victory over the Tigers in Mizzou Arena. The game was played on the one-year anniversary of the resignation of Missouri coach Quin Snyder.
I am sure this list could go on forever. I remember more than anything some lesser player going off in Columbia, most notably Aaron Miles, who would make half his season total from 3 against the Tigers.
These memories will last forever. What about the rivalry?
We all know Bill Self does NOT want to continue to the rivalry next year. First-year Missouri head coach – and National Coach of the Year contender – Frank Haith feels otherwise.
He noted optimistically that Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech and Florida-Florida State are alive and well despite being in different conferences.
“Absolutely. I think it’s a great rivalry. I’m excited about being a part of this thing, this weekend,” Haith said. “Hopefully in time, we can rekindle that and we can still play.”
For everyone who says this rivalry “means nothing” and that Kansas will no longer care about Missouri, the rivalry is currently at its height at this moment.
And don’t forget the Kansas university relations Twitter account, which had this reaction to the move in November: “Missouri forfeits a century-old rivalry. We win.”
Sure you do.
Kansas Jayhawks at Missouri Tigers
Saturday, February 4th 2011 – 8:00 P.M. Central
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman/Dick Vitale / RADIO: Tiger Radio Network/KU Radio Network
|Missouri Tigers (20-2, 7-2 Big 12)
Streak: Won 2
|G||Phil Pressey (10.0 ppg, Leads Big 12 with 6.1 assists, 2.4 steals per game)||SO||5-10||175|
|G||Matt Pressey (7.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg)||SR||6-2||185|
|G||Marcus Denmon (17.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg)||SR||6-3||185|
|F||Kim English (14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 49.5% from 3, 5th in NCAA)||SR||6-6||200|
|F||Ricardo Ratliffe (14.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 75.1% from the field)||SR||6-8||240|
|Kansas Jayhawks (18-4, 8-1 Big 12)
Streak: Won 1
|G||Tyshawn Taylor (16.7 ppg (18.8 in conference play,5.3 apg)||SR||6-3||185|
|G||Travis Releford (9.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg)||JR||6-6||207|
|G||Elijah Johnson (9.1 ppg, 3.7 apg)||JR||6-4||195|
|F||Thomas Robinson (17.6 ppg, 12 rpg)||SR||6-10||237|
|C||Jeff Withey (8.5 ppg, 35.9 rpg, 3.1 blocks per game, 3.67)||JR||7-0||235|
Self thinks the team has not been playing its best basketball of late, yet they are still on top of the Big 12 at 8-1, one game ahead of Mizzou and Baylor.
“If you want to win the Big 12, it has to go through Kansas,” English said.
Missouri gets their first chance to knock down the giant tonight.
English, a “True Son” despite being a Baltimore native, says Kansas has a storied history, but it does not mean he has to like them.
“We are living in the hear and now,” he added. “I respect their players, really look up to them, respect their coach,” he said, “that’s about it.”
English is the X-factor in tonight’s game. He makes for an interesting matchup on both sides of the floor. On offense, either 6-9 Thomas Robinson or 7-foot Jeff Withey will be guarding the 6-6 swingman, as long as he is at the 4. Advantage Missouri. English will be able to pull one of the bigs outside of the paint as the Tigers spread the floor, and will likely get some open looks as they sag toward the lane.
“One of their strengths is playing Kim (English) at the four,” Self said. “They have a lot of strengths, but that is one of their biggest.”
“They have made a perimeter guy a four man, and how many uncontested looks has he gotten this year because a big can’t get to him?
On the other side of the floor, English will have the task of guarding one of the bigs – most likely Robinson – if the Tigers play man-to-man. Iowa State’s Royce White and several KState big men pusher around English in similar scenario’s.
“I don’t know exactly what they are going to try to do, but they are going to play small the majority of the time except for when they go big off the bench.”
I expect Missouri to play zone, maybe even Box-and-1 on Tyshawn Taylor, when they have four guards on the floor, forcing someone, anyone besides Robinson to beat you. He is going to get his. Make Kansas fire away jump shots.
For Kansas, Connor Teahan could be the most important player.
KU’s so-called 3-point specialist, Teahan (only a 35% shooter from 3) will be key. So will other perimeter players Elijah Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor and Travis Releford. Taylor is the only one shooting over 36%, but is 13-27 the last four games.
Josh Campos’ KU’s keys to victory:
It is vital for the Jayhawks to somehow split one of the next 2 road games against Missouri and Baylor if they do not want to win the conference title outright.
On paper this game will present interesting matchups. Can the Jayhawks account for Missouri’s X-Factor Kim English? Or will the Jeff Withey/Thomas Robinson size make the Tigers play out of their style.
Don’t get behind early. Missouri at one point will make a run; as long as the Jayhawks do not have to play behind early, then they have to like their chances.
Use your size: Take a page of Kansas State’s play book and hustle for the 50-50 rebounds and the easy post shots, then the Kimmie English factor will be none.
Play Perimeter Defense: Is the game that Marcus Denmon breaks his funk? Being that its KU, I’m sure he’ll break Missouri records in this game. But for now, lets make sure that you keep you man in front of you.
I like Kansas’ chances in this game (better than Missouri’s chances in Lawrence), however, I will not be disappointed if they lose.
“This rivalry goes way back before we even know, so we kind of take on that role of not really liking those guys,” Taylor said. “We’re going to embrace the crowd, we’re going to embrace the fans, we’re going to go out and do what we do. That’s why we came to Kansas, to play games like this.”
“If we’re tuned in defensively and we’re rebounding the ball, I think we can beat anybody, and I think that’s going to be our focus these next couple weekends, guarding and rebounding the ball,” Taylor added. “We have to win these games. We have to. They’re important.”
P.S. Dear Missouri Fans,
Do not rush the court if you win, you’re ranked higher.
Missouri leads Big 12 in nine different categories, including scoring (81.2) and scoring margin (+18) and continue to lead the nation in home scoring margin and scoring efficiency with 1.2 points per possession. Mizzou has a school-record fourth straight 20-win season.
This is the first time since 2009 that Missouri had a higher ranking, when it was 11th, four spots ahead of the Jayhawks, and lost by 25 points in Lawrence.
What does Missouri have to do to win for the first time since 2009?
Here are the keys:
- Kim English (see above)
- Marcus Denmon: Will Denmon, the Tigers leading scorer (17.1), who has been in an 8-game shooting slump, break out of his funk? I have a hunch he will – and in big-time fashion – but if he doesn’t, Mizzou might not be able to win unless there is a monster performance from someone else.
- Ricardo Ratliffe: Ratliffe, the nation’s top shooter, has gotten into foul trouble in the past against bigger, more physical teams. If he does, Missouri is in trouble. Steve Moore will stand no chance against TRob and Withey on both sides of the ball, and Missouri will becoming nothing but a jump shooting team.
- Hit 3’s: Missouri has struggled from 3 recently, but will have to hit some to win tonight. Denmon getting could go a long way. In the last six games, Denmon and English have made just 27 percent of their 3’s.
- The past two years in Mizzou Arena, the Tigers were so jacked, that they played horribly on offense, having their worst shooting games of each respective season. Missouri controlling their emotion can go a long way in this one. A hot start could, too.
|Avg Points Allowed||60.7||63.8|
|Points||T. Robinson 17.6||M. Denmon 17.1|
|Rebounds||T. Robinson 12.0||R. Ratliffe 6.7|
|Assists||T. Taylor 5.3||P. Pressey 6.0|
|Steals||E. Johnson 1.7||P. Pressey 2.4|
|Blocks||J. Withey 3.1||S. Moore 1.4|
|Team Stats: Kansas | Missouri|
Mizzou Network: Haith preview KU
MUtigers.com: No. 4 Mizzou Set for Showdown with No. 8 Kansas Saturday
KC Star: Border War is about matchups and more
Topeka Capital-Journal: Matchups yield mismatches for KU, MU
Rock Chalk Talk: Kansas vs. Missouri: The Battle of the 4 spot