Kansas’ Keith Langford looked poised to be a real handful for the Tigers, but it all changed in an instant.
Just three minutes into the game, Langford drove to the basket. He drew contact, made the basket and got the foul. However, he wasn’t the one who took the free throw.
Instead, J. R. Giddens stood at the free-throw line as Langford was helped back to the locker room. Langford left the game and did not return because of a right high ankle sprain.
When he left the game, Langford had hit a 3-pointer as well as his layup. He also had an assist, a turnover and a steal. Kansas coach Bill Self said it was tough to lose a player like Langford in such an important game.
“You saw how we struggled to score,” Self said. “We had very little offense when they could put everybody around Wayne (Simien) and we didn’t have anybody slashing to the basket. So, certainly, Keith’s a big part of what we’re trying to do.”
The Tigers controlled most of the game. It is the first time Kansas has lost to Missouri under Self’s tenure He said the loss of Langford was tough for his team but it was no excuse.
“If you say it was Keith, then it’s taking away from Mizzou,” Self said. “They beat us and we’ve got good enough players to overcome that.”
Self said he wasn’t as worried about the potential loss of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and splitting the Big 12 Conference title with Oklahoma as he was about Langford’s future.
“The most disappointing thing is Keith,” Self said. “I don’t know how long Keith will be out. It’s pretty severe what he did.”
SENIORS SIGN OFF: Most of the Missouri team is young, but two players ended their home careers at Missouri on an exceptionally high note.
Seniors Brian Dailey and Jason Conley were honored before the game for their achievements and contributions while at Missouri. Dailey never made much of an impact on the court but was a mentor and a leader on the sidelines. His constant enthusiasm made him a crowd favorite.
Dailey got to start his final home game at Missouri but played just three minutes. He watched for most of the game, fulfilling his usual role of fire-brand.
With just 2.5 seconds left, though, Missouri coach Quin Snyder sent Dailey in to replace Conley. As they passed each other on the court, they gave each other a chest bump as the crowd roared for Dailey and an imminent Tiger victory.
Dailey said being on the court for just those final seconds was an unbelievable feeling.
“It was being a part of victory today,” Dailey said. “There’s a lot of ways to contribute, but being on the court is one of the most special ways there is.”
Conley, who had never beaten Kansas before, said he also thought his last regular-season game at Missouri ended perfectly.
“Me and Dailey, we’re happy to say that we get to leave here knowing that we beat Kansas,” Conley said. “It feels great.”
CHANGING SECTION: For a few years now, the Missouri student section known as the “Zou Crew” has camped out for the best possible seats for the game against Kansas.
The campers have braved freezing weather, heavy snow and other hardships just to be close to the action on game day. There were games, food and a whole lot of Mizzou spirit.
That changed this year. Zou Crew coordinator Stacie Duncan said instead of camping out, a points system was used. The coordinators took attendance at winter semester games and student fans earned points based on how often and early they showed up to games. However, the coordinators only arranged seating for the first four rows.