Missouri men's basketball players say Kansas City is their city

Thursday, March 8, 2012 | 10:08 p.m. CST; updated 3:41 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Michael Dixon drives past two opponents for a layup during the game against Oklahoma State in Kansas City on Thursday. Missouri won 88-70.

KANSAS CITY — The Sprint Center has been the Missouri men's basketball team's home away from home this season. 

The No. 5 Tigers have played their best basketball at the arena in downtown Kansas City, winning each of their three games there by at least 18 points.

Unlike the other teams playing in the Big 12 tournament this week, Missouri has gotten the Kansas City college basketball experience already. They've slept in the hotel beds and shot on the Sprint Center rims before.

In late November, Missouri won the CBE Classic in Kansas City by beating Notre Dame by 29 and then-No. 18 California by 39 in consecutive nights. Notre Dame is a sure bet to make the NCAA tournament and many bracket predictions have  California as NCAA tournament-bound as well.

"We reminded our guys how well we played here," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "I think our guys are comfortable being here because we have had an opportunity to play here earlier in the year."

Missouri picked up where it left off, dominating Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals. Kim English scored 27 points and Marcus Denmon scored 24 points in the Tigers' 88-70 win. The two seniors have combined for 124 points at the Sprint Center this season.

Missouri dominated the first half of Thursday's game, holding Oklahoma State to just 24 points.

"Our defense was outstanding," Haith said. "We've had some (other) games where we played defense like that. Particularly when we were in Kansas City before, I thought we had two really good games guarding the ball, good pressure."

Kansas City is home for four Tigers. Seniors Jarrett Sutton, Steve Moore, Denmon, and junior Michael Dixon all grew up in Kansas City. Senior Andrew Jones grew up 15 miles away in Smithville.

"The city adopted me," English added. "This is our city."

Just like they did when Missouri played in the CBE Classic, Missouri fans turned out in bunches for Thursday's game. Black and gold could be spotted in just about every section of the crowd.

Earlier this week, though, Kansas coach Bill Self questioned whether Kansas City is really Missouri's city. In a coaches' teleconference on Monday, Self said Kansas City was "more of a KU and K-State town."

Despite the Jayhawks not playing during the nighttime session on Thursday, plenty of Kansas blue was in the crowd amid the Missouri gold, Oklahoma State bright orange, Iowa State red and Texas burnt orange. Kansas State purple was sprinkled in as well. But, at least during the Missouri game, the noise level was loudest when it was the Tigers making a big play.

Self's words came on the topic of whether or not the Big 12 tournament should continue to be held in Kansas City when Missouri leaves the conference for the SEC at the end of this season. He doesn't see any reason for the Big 12 to move its tournament to another city.

"It's who puts on the best show," he said. "And obviously Kansas City has done a great job."

Dixon is disappointed that this is the last time he will get to play postseason basketball in his home city.

"It's always good and fun to play in front of your friends and family, but that's something that's not in my control," he said.

The Tigers play Texas (19-12, 9-9) in the Big 12 semifinals at 9 p.m. on Friday, meaning they can claim Kansas City as theirs for at least one more day.

"This is Kansas City, Missouri, last time I checked," Dixon said.

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Betty Aderton March 10, 2012 | 1:29 p.m.

I don't think Kansas City is ready to succeed from Missouri Yet. Bill Self needs to update his History and who cares what he thinks anyway.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 10, 2012 | 5:53 p.m.

We need to remember that the situation in Kansas City metro is different from St. Louis metro. A significant portion of the population of Kansas City metro lives in the state of Kansas. Johnson County, Kansas in particular is the second most populous county in Kansas, and Johnson County has some wealthy citizens. It is much easier to drive to Lawrence from Kansas City than it is to drive to Columbia (and you have a choice of two super highways, I-70 and K-10).

Whereas you find "high end" auto dealers in St. Louis metro out in St. Louis County you find their counterparts in Kansas City metro across the state line in Johnson County, Kansas.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 10, 2012 | 9:45 p.m.

No, Ellis, tonight, B. Self & co. should be on their way to Lawrence and Kansas City, MO is "ouren". So long Kansas!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 10, 2012 | 10:13 p.m.


Time for a story. It seems there was a horrible traffic accident at the intersection of US 56 and Sunshine (see a detailed Kansas City metro map). Among the dead and critically injured was a diehard Missouri Tiger fan, barely clinging to life.

After firemen ripped the door from the fan's car and pulled him out, he momentarily came to. "Where are you taking me?" he asked the ambulance crew.

"To University of Kansas Medical Center," said one of the ambulance crew. "It's In Kansas City, Kansas, a few blocks north on Sunshine."

"If it's okay with you," said the diehard Tiger fan, "I'd rather die here."

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 10, 2012 | 10:29 p.m.

Ellis - See?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 11, 2012 | 7:06 a.m.

@ Frank Christian:

See what, Frank? You (and other Tiger fans) realize that the story, above, can be "reconfigured" to involve a rabid Jayhawk fan. It all depends upon who is telling the story and who the story is being told to.

A Jayhawk fan is driving eastbound through Missouri on I-70 when, while passing through Columbia, he/she is involved in a horrible traffic accident. The ambulance arrives and the crew says they're taking him/her to University of Missouri Medical Center. He/she declines.

My question is this: What are all you nice KU and MU fans going to do now that your teams aren't playing in the same conference? Will you exhibit the classic symptoms of drug addiction patients in withdrawal?

Methadone to the rescue!

Hint for MU fans when you meet fans of other schools in the SEC. When discussing United States history* use the term "War Between the States," NOT "Civil War." Otherwise they'll peg you for a bunch of damned Yankees.

*- Granted, the subject may not surface much at football and basketball games. :)

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 11, 2012 | 9:13 a.m.

Ellis - You said you were going to tell a story. Now you assert, it was a Joke! How is one to know?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 11, 2012 | 10:58 a.m.


A story can also be a joke. Consider the story Al Gore has told about how he invented the Internet.

Al COULD be correct, you know, but I think he may have had a little help. :)

Al invented the Internet in just six days, then he rested on the seventh day.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 11, 2012 | 12:00 p.m.

Oh! Now I see.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush March 11, 2012 | 2:58 p.m.

Incredible claims
Are without merit, but keep
Plucking that chicken.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 11, 2012 | 4:34 p.m.

When the mob came and got her
And dragged her from the jail, Madam
They strung her up on the old willow across the way
And the moment before she died
She lifted up her lovely head and cried, Madam
"Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today"

Cole Porter (1934)

[Porter didn't favor haikus much, but did pretty well anyway.]

(Report Comment)

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