COLUMBIA — If the Missouri men's basketball team is going to finish at the top of the Big 12 Conference standings this season, it will likely take a win Saturday in Lawrence, Kan.
After beating Texas A&M 68-58 Wednesday, Kansas (23-5, 13-2) took sole possession of first place in the Big 12. Now, No. 3 Missouri (25-3, 12-3) and No. 4 Kansas both have three games remaining, including a meeting with each other at 3 p.m. Saturday — the last scheduled game between the two teams before Missouri leaves for the Southeastern Conference.
No. 3 Missouri (25-3, 12-3)
No. 4 Kansas (23-5, 13-2)
WHEN: 3 p.m.
WHERE: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, 100.5 FM; KCMQ 96.7 FM
Missouri won the season's first meeting Feb. 4 at Mizzou Arena and will hold the tiebreaker between the two teams if it wins again on Saturday. Missouri has not won a regular season conference championship since 1994. Kansas has won the past seven titles.
Missouri-Kansas State rivalry
The Missouri-Kansas rivalry isn't the only rivalry being lost when Missouri leaves for the SEC.
Tuesday marked the last scheduled game in a closely-contested rivalry between Missouri and Kansas State. Kansas State won 78-68, handing Missouri its first home loss of the season.
The Wildcats won both meetings this season and now lead the all-time series 118-117.
"As a coach, when you've got a school that's so close to your campus and has the atmosphere that this building has, you look forward to going into these games," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "To not have that it's gonna be sad."
Tuesday's win was Martin's first at Mizzou Arena.
"I'm gonna miss it," he said. "Their student section here loves me. They say stuff to me that's unbelievable. I'm gonna miss them."
Other 25-3 starts in Missouri history
With Tuesday's loss, the Tigers missed out on a chance to be the first Missouri team to start a season 26-2. Missouri started 25-3 two other times: in the 1989-90 season and 1993-94. Both of those teams won Big 12 regular season titles.
A strong start doesn't necessarily bode well for Missouri. The 1989-90 team stumbled down the stretch to earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. It was then upset by No. 14 seed Northern Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The 1993-94 team had more success, earning a top seed and winning three NCAA tournament games before losing to No. 2 seed Syracuse.