Missouri won't face Kansas in Big 12 final, gets Baylor instead

Saturday, March 10, 2012 | 12:54 a.m. CST; updated 4:21 p.m. CDT, Sunday, March 11, 2012
Missouri guard Kim English goes for a layup during the game against Texas at the Big 12 Semifinals on Friday night in Kansas City .

KANSAS CITY — The Missouri-Kansas basketball rivalry is over, thanks to Baylor sophomore Brady Heslip.

Any hope that this year's edition of the Border War would be continued just east of the border in Kansas City was lost when Heslip hit three-pointers on back-to-back possessions late in Friday's Big 12 semifinal game between Kansas and Baylor.

After the second shot, which gave Baylor a 73-66 lead, Heslip held up three fingers as he walked back down the court. He could have just held up two — the number of times Kansas and Missouri will face each other in Big 12 games this season. 

Kansas and Missouri finished first and second in the Big 12 and split two closely contested games with each other during the regular season. Many anticipated a rubber match in the Big 12 championship game on Saturday before Missouri departs for the SEC.

Instead, when the final buzzer sounded on Baylor's 81-72 win, it also sounded on the Border War. Heslip handed the ball to a referee, and a dejected Kansas team walked off the court.

"We had two epic games with (Missouri) this year," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It's unfortunate it's going to end."

There is the possibility that Missouri could face Kansas during the NCAA tournament later this month as a final match before the rivals are in difference conferences next year.

Even though Kansas won't be there, Missouri will still be playing in the Big 12 tournament championship game on Saturday night. The Tigers won their semifinal game Friday night, beating Texas 81-67.

Phil Pressey scored a career-high 23 points. Kim English, who suffered an injury to his quad in the second half, shot 90 percent and scored 23 points. English returned to the game after getting hurt and said he will be ready to play again on Saturday night.

None of the Missouri players expressed any disappointment at not getting to face Kansas again.

"We would've played Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, anybody," English said. "We just (want) to win the Big 12."

For the second time in four years, Missouri will face Baylor with the Big 12 tournament title on the line. Missouri won the 2009 championship game 73-60 against Baylor.

More recent history also favors Missouri. The No. 5 Tigers beat No. 12 Baylor twice this season.

Regular season success against an opponent, however, is not always indicative of postseason success. Kansas also beat Baylor twice during the regular season, before losing on Friday.

Saturday's championship game tips off at 5:00 p.m. at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Baylor finished tied with Iowa State for third-place in the Big 12 this season.

"We just go out there and whoever's in front of us, we just take it head on," junior Michael Dixon said.

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