MU-KU Hate Week, Vol. 2: Open letter to Kansas, Border War preview (and links)

First things first, lets get this out of the way, so I wont be distracted by how much I hate you…

Dear Kansas,

Some rivalries are built because of a history of important, crucial matchups, proximity or recent success against one another. Not this one. This one is built on pure hatred. Blood was shed. Their was an ACTUAL WAR. That is what makes this rivalry the best in the land. Its also why we hate each other so much. If today’s game featured two 11-18 teams, it would still be sold out. You think Duke-North Carolina can say that? Hell no, they can’t. Sure, there have been moments — MU-KU basketball was incredible in the late-1980s, early 90’s and Mizzou pulled a series of home upsets of superior Kansas basketball teams in the 1990s, and the teams played a trio of incredible football games at Arrowhead Stadium from 2007-09. But rarely have the teams both been great in a single sport at the same time. This rivalry is based on neighbor hating neighbor. On some story of a long-ago ancestor done wrong by those damn Jayhawkers/Missourians.

KU fans can say what they want, but they will miss it when we are gone. We love to hate each other, and it won’t be the same once we are gone. You can point the finger at Mizzou all you want for “leaving” but you would have done the same, and in 2-3 years when we are long gone to the SEC, won’t you miss us? What about all those friendly bets with your neighbors, co-workers and friends? What about all that trash talk? It will be all gone. So, Bill Self and KU, get over your butt-hurt and play the game. After a few months of Kansas fans trying to convince Missouri fans (and themselves) that they don’t REALLY care about Mizzou, Bill Self told Kansas City radio yesterday that he expected the atmosphere at Allen Fieldhouse to be the best it has ever been. But I thought you didn’t care about Missouri?

Pout all you want, but it is only hurting you. I won’t miss (MOST) of your “high-horse” riding, “We are better than you”, hippie fans and their clamor for assuming every Missouri fan supports slavery because Missouri was a slave state 160 years ago. John Brown was a terrorist, whats your point? I won’t miss any of your players, I certainly won’t miss you, but I will miss playing you and HATING you.

Your constant reminders of the all-time series record in basketball makes me sick. What about your other sports? Oh, that’s right, Kansas doesn’t care about other sports. Yeah, you have a BCS berth that was stolen from Missouri. Your best football season ever featured a loss to Missouri, ended behind the polls for Missouri. Have your BCS bowl, nothing was sweeter than ruining your best season EVER. Yeah, you have done the same thing to Missouri, in winning at Columbia in 1960, when Missouri was No. 1 in the polls, but you had to cheat to do so. Why should I be surprised?

Oh, and, how can I forget if you want to remember all-time series record.

Lawrence has been burned down twice, Columbia 0. All you could do is pillage the border counties.

Missouri 2, Kansas 0.




Reminder: Quantrill was just retaliating for that asshole Senator Lane’s order of a ruthless attack on Osceola, where the women and ANIMALS were raped (again, why am I not surprised, you sick bastards) and all the living men were killed. Why? Because he was “paranoid” Missourians would attack. Ya, now they will, you idiot. Osceola has never recovered.

I hate you Kansas. I’d rather live in any other state, any other country. I mean ANY. Your biggest city (Overland Park) is a suburb to Missouri’s biggest city, Kansas City, which your state is named after. And before you try to debunc that, Kansas City was a city before your Godforsaken state was even a territory.

There is no substitute for hate (although Mike Anderson and ARkANSAS coming back to Columbia will be pretty cool) and you will soon find that out too. Do you REALLY HATE Kansas State? Not if you guys quietly root for each other. I would root for a terrorists organization (much like the Jayhawkers were) if they played Kansas.

I will forever and always hate you,



Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. Now, more about the game.

Missouri Tigers at Kansas Jayhawks
Saturday, February 25th 2011 – 3:00 P.M. Central
TV: CBS (Lundquist/Kellogg) / RADIO: Tiger Radio Network/Jayhawk Radio

Missouri Tigers (25-3, 12-3 Big 12)
Streak: Lost 1
G Phil Pressey (9.9 ppg Big 12 leader in assists (6.0) and steals (2.1)) SO 5-10 175
G Matt Pressey (6.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg) SR 6-2 185
G Marcus Denmon (17.8 ppg, 5.1 reb) SR 6-3 185
F Kim English (14.0 ppg, 4.1 reb; 45.6% on three-pointers, leads Big 12) SR 6-6 200
F Ricardo Ratliffe (13.5 ppg, 7.2 reb) SR 6-8 240
Kansas Jayhawks (23-5, 13-2 Big 12)
Streak: Won 5
G Tyshawn Taylor (16.5 ppg, 5.0 assists) SR 6-3 185
G Travis Releford (9.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg) JR 6-6 207
G Elijah Johnson (9.1 ppg) JR 6-4 195
F Thomas Robinson (17.4 ppg, 11.9 reb) SR 6-10 237
C Jeff Withey (9.6 ppg, 6,6 reb, 3.4 blocks; 16 ppg, 10.2 rpg since loss at Mizzou ) JR 7-0 235

Missouri’s loss at home to Kansas State this week took some of the hype of today’s Mizzou-KU, Top 5 showdown.

But, the importance remains the same. The Tigers (25-3, 12-3 Big 12) still control their own destiny. Regardless of the K-State loss, If Missouri wanted to win the conference out right it had to win at Lawrence. The stakes are still the same. If Missouri wins, they are back in a first-place tie. In either scenario, Missouri needs to win today.

For Kansas, a win clinches a share of their 8th straight conference crown.

The odds are against Missouri – no matter how good they are THIS YEAR. They have not win in Lawrence since Norm Stewart’s last game at AFH in 1999, and Kansas has not lost to a Big 12 team twice in the same year since Bill Self’s first year nine years ago (Texas). The Jayhawks margin of victory in those 12 games is 16 points.

That is not saying Missouri CAN’T win in Lawrence. The Tigers are senior-laden, and they won’t be scared of the Phog. If Missouri hits their outside shots (their going to have to shoot better than their normal road average of 33% from 3) and can get KU into some foul trouble, it is realistic to think this is a game down to the end. Mizzou has a short bench, but it is good, with Mike Dixon and his 12.9 points per game coming off it, and it is better than KU’s, who rarely gets anything out of their bench.

But, its easier said than done as Bill Self has lost seven home games in nine years at KU.


As we’ve seen, Kansas can beat anyone when at its best, and this time it’s for a championship. Same goes for Missouri. I don’t think ANYONE is better, including Kansas, when Missouri is firing on all cylinders. The Tigers have not played great on the road, but have done enough to go 5-2. They will have to play a lot better than that to win today.

But for some reason, I have that feeling – that despite being 13-2 in the Big 12 and on the verge of its eighth straight Big 12 title – that Kansas is not the same as Kansas teams in the past. I don’t know what it is. Maybe that is why I think it realistically possible for Missouri to go into Allen Fieldhouse and walk out as a winner?

I’m not going to predict it, but how epic would it be? Missouri sweeps Kansas in their final year in the Big 12…it would be nice retribution for Missouri to do so, closing down the rivalry at AFH with a win, much like KU did in closing down the Hearnes Center and Brewer Fieldhouse.

But, not to sound too much like a homer (I don’t think there is anyway I can bring this back to a normal journalistic piece following everything I said in the open letter to KansASS can I?), it going to be VERY, VERY hard to win in this building. Frank Haith gets his first try today. His predecessor, Lyin’/Suitcase Mike Anderson couldn’t do it. He did come close (80-77) in his first try. Neither could Quin Snyder. He also came close behind Keyon Dooling in his first try. But, just like Kansas has a No. 1 seed and a Big 12 Championship on the line – so does Mizzou.

It is safe to say that this is probably the biggest Border War basketball game in Lawrence since 1990. If true, its a Kansas blowout. Maybe, just maybe, for Missouri it will end like it did 22 years ago, when Missouri won at Kansas behind Anthony Peeler’s big night.

Missouri has flaws – we all know what they are – but it has not stopped them from going 25-3. Their weaknesses can turn into strengths on the other end of the floor too. Missouri relies a lot on the 3 and it can do one of three things for the Tigers – make up a deficit quickly, pull away quickly or shoot them out of the game. It did a lot of the latter Tuesday in a loss to Kansas State. It has done the middle several times this year, and it did the first against Kansas the first time. They can also score a bunch in a hurry an go on some pretty impressive scoring runs, in a hurry. They rank dead-last in the conference in Big 12 in defense, but that hasn’t mattered for the most part. Missouri’s spurtability can come while they are giving up points, thanks to the 3-ball. They may give up 10 points in four minutes, but score 20-plus.

They will need one of these type of runs today if they are going to win.

Kansas is not without their flaws, either. They are indeed sometimes careless with the basketball – they rank 149th in Off. TO% and 204th in Off. Steal%. Tyshawn Taylor is always toeing the line between fantastic and completely out of control, and you could call a travel on Thomas Robinson virtually every time he touches the ball (and lately, this has become a bit more common). The Jayhawks rank just 154th in 3PT% and 161st in FT%. As we saw late in the game at Mizzou Arena, their primary ball-handlers (Taylor, Elijah Jonson) cannot be trusted to nail key free throws. They only have two players averaging 70% at the free throw line (Jeff Withey, Conner Teahan) and they shoot just 66 percent of their freebies for the season. This could be a serious weakness come tourney time, though obviously it will be less of a concern for them at home, where they are nearly unbeatable.

The Jayhawks do an amazingly incredible job of giving you wide open shots you aren’t likely to make. Every time Mizzou loses in blowout fashion at Allen Field House, fans mourn all the open looks that didn’t go in. A lot of that is by design. They take away your security-blanket shots, give you other shots you’re less likely to make.

Robinson is No. 1 in the country in Defensive Rebound Rate, and Withey is second in the country in Block Percentage (as a team, Kansas is eighth in the same category. You are forced to take lower-percentage jumpers, and if you miss them, you are toast.

Withey has become their best player since going scoreless at Mizzou Arena three weeks ago. His surge has offset the fact that Thomas Robinson has faded a bit. Robinson is still averaging a double-double, and he is still an absolute matchup nightmare for Mizzou, but he has averaged 4.2 turnovers and 4.0 fouls per game in the last six contests. That takes a lot off the table. If Missouri can either get into his head or get him on the bench with foul trouble, their odds of winning will increase considerably.

Turnovers have crept back into Taylor’s game as well. In the four games leading up to the first Kansas-Missouri game, Taylor had averaged just 1.8 turnovers per game. In the last six, he’s averaged 3.5. He’s also seen his jumper come and go. He made 10 of 20 3-pointers against Missouri, Baylor, Kansas State and Texas Tech and one of five versus Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Kansas’ ceiling varies wildly depending on which version of Taylor they get in a given game.

If Missouri can get Robinson and Taylor to continue their recent trends, and get the old Jeff Withey back, the Tigers chances of being in the game are very good.

That’s a lot of if’s, and Missouri must STILL play well.

As always, offensive rebounds, fouls and Phil Pressey go a long way toward Mizzou’s success on the road. But all three of these factors are rather extreme against Kansas. The Jayhawks are phenomenal on the defensive glass, Mizzou has no chance if their bigs get into foul trouble. A lot has to go right for Mizzou to win – just as Kansas needs to do some bad things.

This is going to be the loudest, most hostile road crowd Mizzou has seen all season, and they simply have to be able to respond when things get loud. If they cow to the moment, and dunks turns into quick 8-0 runs, things will get out of hand, as they have quite often for Mizzou at AFH in recent years.

“I think it helps that we’ve got a system now and we know what we’re gonna do coming into the game,” Dixon said. “We know what kind of offense we’re going to run and we know what we’re going to do if they pick us up full court, just things like that. We’ve got a game plan.”

Will the plan work?

We’ll find out in a few hours….Every time I think its possible for Missouri to win, I remember how good Kansas is at home and how bad Missouri is in Low-Rents. This is the Show-Me state, so the Tigers need go out and show me it is possible.


What are the saying?

Kim English on his first trip to Lawrence:

After we beat them here first my freshman year, we went there. It was super loud, the court was shaking. I started that game as a freshman, I went over to Leo and I said, “It’s so loud,” “It’s definitely gonna be revved up. They’re definitely going to be excited for us coming over there.

Phil Pressey:

It was louder than I expected. My teammates told me how crazy it was there and I didn’t believe them. But once I got there, I really realized how loud it was.

Mike Dixon:

I started that game and I didn’t know I was starting till about two minutes before the game so quick turnaround isn’t even the word for that. It was exciting. It’s so loud and crazy in there, I think, you don’t even get rattled. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s just how it is.

It was crazy loud. They have definitely the best crowd I’ve witnessed,” Ratliffe said. “They’re all in unity and they all hate us.

Laurence Bowers:

Kansas is always an incredible team and they have a great coach so it has to do a lot with the players. But I think they have a very distinctive home court advantage. I would say the same for Mizzou. There’s no way we beat Kansas without that Mizzou crowd. Tyshawn Taylor missed those two free throws because of the Mizzou crowd. So I feel like the home court advantage and the players, probably 75-25 players to the arena.

It’s a constant noise. There’s very little dead time,” Haith said. “Students stand up the whole game. And they’re very creative. I want our guys to go in there just being focused and be ready for Kansas to come with a knockout punch in the first five minutes of the game. You’ve got to be ready to withstand the barrage of intensity. Much like it was here in our game. There was a lot of emotion, lot of intensity at the start of that ballgame. We’ve got to be ready to take that on.

Steve Moore:

They say a lot of stuff. I really can’t pick anything out. The stuff they say is kind of hilarious. That’s what they’re supposed to do. They’re the student section at Kansas, we’re their rivals, they’re supposed to say stuff like that to get us off our game. We just got to go in there focused and not worry about what they do or what their fans say or this, that and the other.



Lawrence Journal-World: Bill Self hypes KU-MU

KC Star: Missouri bracing itself for crazy atmosphere in Allen Fieldhouse
KC Star (Campus Corner): Border War bigness
Post-Dispatch: MU players focus on the game, not the hype
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou is prepared for Phog
Post-Dispatch: Phog rolls in at Kansas’ fieldhouse
PowerMizzou: The Biggest Border War Ever
Lawrence Journal-World: Tyshawn Taylor expects ‘crazy’ game
Lawrence Journal-World: Stallworth’s 50 turns 40

Lawrence Journal World: Plenty to play for: Big 12 title, revenge motivate KU in final battle with MU

KC Star: Border rivals prepare for their last shot

Lawrence Journal World: Brownback not interested in keeping MU rivalry

KC Star: KU values lessons from final three minutes of loss at Mizzou

Other Mizzou basketball links

Keep The Fhaith
The Trib: Tigers still have legit chance at No. 1 seed

Home Court
The Trib: What is home-court advantage really worth? It depends

The Missourian: Others’ kindness graces Steve Moore’s path to Missouri

The Missourian: Ricardo Ratliffe puts artistic side on hold to focus on basketball

Post-Dispatch: KC dunks St. Louis in college basketball viewership

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