COLUMBIA — Don’t look to Missouri’s victory over Texas last week to find a strategy for the Tigers to beat Kansas on Saturday. The Jayhawks and Longhorns are both ranked, but they present different obstacles.
After playing Texas last Saturday, Missouri coach Mike Anderson said that if you were to match Texas’ five starters with MU’s, there would be no way the Tigers could have won. Anderson credited the Tigers’ depth for the victory over the then-No. 12 Longhorns. He said that Missouri wore down star Texas guards D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams. Augustin played all 40 minutes, and Abrams played 38.
Kansas (17-0, 2-0) vs. Missouri (11-6, 1-1)WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday WHERE: Mizzou Arena TV: ESPNU RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM, KBXR/102.3 FM SERIES: KU leads 164-93 1. The last team to beat Missouri at Mizzou Arena was Kansas on Feb. 10, 2007. Since then, MU has won 13 straight games at home. 2. The most points scored by one player in Mizzou Arena is 40 by Thomas Gardner against KU on Jan. 16, 2006. The most points scored by an opposing player is 33 by KU’s Julian Wright on Feb. 10, 2007. 3. The most points an opposing player has scored against MU came on Feb. 26, 1972 when KU’s Bud Stallworth scored 50. That is also the most points scored by any player in the MU-KU rivalry. 4. In the KU media guide, KU’s Darnell Jackson and Mario Chalmers both list Mizzou Arena as the toughest arena they have played at. 5. According to an April 5, 1999 story from the Columbia Daily Tribune, current KU coach Bill Self was interviewed to replace MU’s Norm Stewart when Stewart retired after the 1999 season. Self was the coach at Tulsa at the time. MU eventually hired Quin Snyder as Stewart’s replacement.
On Saturday night, Missouri is faced with a similar predicament in terms of talent when the Jayhawks travel to Mizzou Arena. Not only is KU unbeaten, but is also ranked third in both the AP and the USA Today polls. KU has talent on its roster that is just as good, if not better, than Texas had.
What is different is that the Jayhawks have a deeper bench than Texas. The five players that have started the majority of the Longhorn’s games this year are playing over 30 minutes per game. But for Kansas, guard Mario Chalmers plays the most at 28.9 minutes per game. Just like MU, the Jayhawks rotate several players into the game to keep fresh legs on the court at all times.
Saturday’s game is another part of a tough start to conference play for the Tigers, with the two games against ranked teams sandwiched around a road game against Iowa State that MU lost on Wednesday night.
“We were thrown right into the fire,” Anderson said. “It’s a great league, you’re going to play good teams every night. But to start off with those teams, it makes it even more challenging for our basketball team.”
The Tigers will not only be trying to knock off their rival on Saturday, but prevent a losing streak at the same time.
“I think we’ve just got to get mentally back and get back physically strong,” forward DeMarre Carroll said. “We’ve just got to learn from it (the loss to Iowa State) and really go out there in the Kansas game and do the impossible — that’s what everybody thinks is impossible.”
It can be easy to get caught up in a rivalry game, something forward Leo Lyons will try to avoid on Saturday night.
“I think what hurts us a lot is thinking about all of the rivalry and how important it is and getting it over any other games,” Lyons said. “I’m just going out there playing like it’s any other game.”
While Lyons tries to downplay it, there will likely be much more excitement from the fans at Mizzou Arena on Saturday night than at any other point this year. The KU game is usually the one Tigers fans circle on their schedules at the beginning of the season.
There were a season-high 13,085 in attendance for the Texas game, but against KU, the figure will probably be right around the capacity of 15,061.
“For Tiger fans, we need you,” Anderson said in a radio interview after Wednesday’s game. “We need you at a pitch level at Mizzou Arena and help to will this team on. I think our guys got the stuff made up to get it done. Our key is to protect the home court against a very good Kansas basketball team.”