Kansas State frustrates Missouri men's basketball team

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | 10:18 p.m. CST; updated 10:54 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Senior center Steve Moore gestures toward an instant replay of his fifth foul in the second half of Missouri's game against Kansas State Tuesday at Mizzou Arena. Missouri lost 78-68.

COLUMBIA — Steve Moore and Kim English stood in the huddle, staring down at the ground with their shoulders slumped.

The Missouri men's basketball team trailed by eight points with less than one minute to play, and Moore and English had both fouled out of the game. The reality that they were going to lose to Kansas State again was settling in.

Kansas State (19-8, 8-7) is the only team that No. 3 Missouri (25-3, 12-3) hasn't been able to figure out how to beat this season. The Wildcats won their first meeting 75-59 on Jan. 7 in Manhattan, Kan. On Tuesday, they won 78-68, handing Missouri its first home loss of the season.

Last week, Missouri avenged an earlier loss to Oklahoma State by throttling the Cowboys with the 83-65 score. Instead of getting revenge on Kansas State on Tuesday, the Tigers were frustrated for 40 minutes.

"It was a physical, physical ballgame," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "Very aggressive, and their physicality just kind of got to us."

The Tigers dealt with foul trouble throughout the game and struggled on offense. Missouri's average shooting percentage is 50 percent, but the Tigers shot just 33 percent on Tuesday. They shot 32.7 percent in the first game this season against Kansas State.

Throughout the game, Missouri's frustration showed. In the first half, English was whistled for a technical foul for slamming the ball on the ground after being called for a foul. In the second half, Phil Pressey jumped up and then smacked the ground with both hands after a foul was called on him.

Even Haith's frustration was showing. Haith typically spends much of the game crouched with one hand on his chin. On Tuesday, he spent most of the game standing up with his hands on his hips or pacing back and forth. His sport coat, which usually remains on his back for the entire game, was off within the first 10 minutes.

For a change, Missouri wasn't the team running up and down the court scoring at will. Kansas State was beating the Tigers at their own game and playing more physically.

"When you're coming across the lane there's chesting, there's bumping, there's a lot of stuff going on off the ball," Haith said. "When the games are played like that, we haven't played that well."

Kansas State coach Frank Martin said it was the third straight game that Kansas State held its opponent below their season shooting percentage average.

"We take a lot of pride in that," Martin said. "That's a credit to our kids."

But Martin didn't have a good explanation of why his team has had more success than anybody else against Missouri.

"I say this all the time, and people look at me like I have six heads, we don't practice any differently," Martin said. "We don't change. We have a system in place, and we stick to those principles. We make adjustments on individual personnel."

Plenty of championship-caliber teams have had one team they couldn't beat. This past season, the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants lost twice to the five-win Washington Redskins.

With the loss, Missouri slipped to second place in the Big 12 Conference standings. The Tigers can still win the Big 12, especially if they bounce back and beat first-place Kansas (22-5, 12-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Lawrence, Kan. The Jayhawks play at Texas A&M on Wednesday.

Just as with their past losses, Missouri plans to learn from this one.

"We didn't defend the way we usually defend, the way we need to defend," English said. "That will be fixed. That won't happen again."

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