LAWRENCE, Kan. — With Missouri coming in to Lawrence, Kan., ranked last in the Big 12 Conference in rebounding in its first three games and the Jayhawks leading the conference in the category, the advantage was seemingly obvious for Kansas.
After a 41-17 deficit against Kansas State, Missouri coach Mike Anderson decided to shuffle his starting lineup to solve the problem, going back to his season-opening starters. Anderson opted for junior center Kalen Grimes rather than forward Leo Lyons, who had started the team’s past three conference games.
Grimes took advantage of the opportunity to show his coach he deserved the start with six first-half rebounds for a team struggling with defensive rebounding. Missouri’s center finished with 12 rebounds in the Tigers’ 80-77 loss to Kansas. More importantly, 11 of Grimes rebounds came on the defensive end of the court, limiting the Jayhawks second-chance opportunities. On numerous occasions, Grimes simply outmuscled Jayhawks for loose ball rebounds. For one rebound, Grimes ripped the ball out of Kansas center Sasha Kaun’s hands.
Kansas, aware of Missouri’s lack of size, attempted to get the ball down low constantly. But Grimes held Kaun to only one field goal in the half in 14 minutes. While Grimes didn’t score many points himself (he finished with six), Missouri didn’t need him to.
Vaidotas Volkus, who Anderson has called a “magnet to the ball,” also saw his time on the court increase. A junior forward, Volkus grabbed three defensive rebounds in eight first-half minutes. He also stole playing time from forward Darryl Butterfield, who played only one minute in Monday night’s loss.
As a team, Missouri outrebounded Kansas 43-42. It was the first conference game this season the Tigers have outrebounded an opponent.