LAWRENCE, Kan. — Without throwing any punches, Missouri earned a total knockout against Kansas on Saturday.
The Tigers outhustled and outmuscled the Jayhawks to earn a 76-49 win in front of 2,877 at Allen Fieldhouse.
The win comes two weeks after a postgame fight between Kansas and Missouri players erupted at half-court after the Jayhawks’ 55-52 win at Hearnes Center.
After the game, Missouri coach Cindy Stein played down the magnitude of her team’s win against Kansas. She instead stressed that her team snapped a four-game losing skid and won its first Big 12 Conference game.
“I think it is great to get that first win,” Stein said. “The monkey is kind of off the back but we still have a ways to go and we know we have to get the next few and get back on track.”
Three Kansas players and two Missouri players served suspensions for their roles in the fight, but the much anticipated rematch turned into a blowout thanks to the Tigers’ tremendous second-half offensive effort.
Missouri (10-6, 1-4) shot 51.6 percent in the second half. The Tigers were 0-for-6 in the first 5:09.
Missouri’s slow start allowed Kansas to cut the Tigers’ 33-20 halftime lead to six with a Tamara Ransburg free throw with 15:02 left. Missouri responded with a Melanie Fisher layup that sparked a 19-4 run that included several easy layups and a run from MyEsha Perkins.
Perkins, playing in her first game after serving a two-game suspension for punching a Kansas player, scored on five straight Missouri possessions.
Missouri finished with 21 assists, and Stein said her team’s offensive patience and smart passing were the key to its second-half dominance.
“We pushed the ball up the floor better today than we have in a few games,” Stein said. “I thought we did a good job reading the gaps and our passers made the right passes and things were falling for us.”
Although Perkins stole the show in the second half, Evan Unrau dominated. Unrau finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds after scoring 11 of the Tigers’ first 16 points.
Unrau received a public reprimand from the Big 12 on Friday for not showing proper oral restraint after the previous Missouri-Kansas game. Missouri appealed the reprimand, but after reviewing the situation the conference decided to follow through with the punishment.
After the game, Unrau said she was proud of the way both teams handled the potentially volatile situation.
“There was a lot of hype going into this game about things that could be said and things that could happen,” Unrau said. “I think both teams did a good job of just going out and playing hard.
“We came off with a win today and I’m definitely relieved and I think all of us are excited to finally play the way we know how to play.”
Four players scored in double figures for Missouri. Aside from Unrau, Perkins scored 15 points, Tracy Lozier scored 13 and Stretch James had 13 points and 11 rebounds.