Nailbiter Ends in OT Loss for Men’s Basketball

Saturday, Feb. 25 –

On Nov. 6, 2011, when it was announced that the University of Missouri would be leaving the Big 12 and heading to the Southeastern Conference, the stakes immediately rose in the 120-year-old rivalry between the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri.

It was evident on Feb. 4, 2012, when the Missouri Tigers hosted the Kansas Jayhawks and won a nail biter, 74-71. It was evident again on Saturday, Feb. 25, as the No. 4 University of Kansas (23-5) (13-2) played host to the No. 3 Missouri Tigers (25-3) (12-3) and beat them in an overtime thriller, 87-86.

With decibel levels in Allen Fieldhouse reaching just above 110 – similar to that of a jet flyover – the atmosphere was electric to say the least, as it would be the last time these two teams would meet in the regular season as conference foes.

For the Tigers, it was a must win – looking to bounce back after an upsetting loss at home against fellow Big 12 rival, Kansas State, as well as looking to keep their hopes of being Big 12 champions alive. Unfortunately, it was not so for the Tigers, as costly fouls and missed opportunities proved to be Missouri’s Achilles heel.

The game started in typical fashion for these two schools, battling back and forth with neither letting one get a substantial lead on the other. Tied 31-31 with just four minutes left in the first half, the Tigers began to go on a run. Thanks to three of six shooting on threes in those final four minutes, the Tigers enjoyed a comfortable 12-point lead going into halftime, 44-32.

The Tigers kept the momentum going as they opened up the second half, building their lead to as high as 19 points on the offending Jayhawks. However, a methodical offense run by Bill Self paired with the Tigers’ foul trouble got the Jayhawks to the line and began to chip away at the Missouri lead.

Soon, the Missouri lead had all but disappeared as the Tigers led 71-70 with just less than two and a half minutes left to play.

The Tigers and Jayhawks exchanged baskets until Thomas Robinson – with Kansas trailing by three – made a layup with 16 seconds to go and drew the foul from Michael Dixon. Robinson made the free throw to tie the game at 75-75.

In a list ditch effort to avoid overtime, Phil Pressey came flying into the lane for an attempted layup, just to meet the monstrous hands of Thomas Robinson as he blocked him to send the game into overtime.

The Jayhawks jumped out of the gate in overtime as Tyshawn Taylor opened the period with a three. Following the shot by Taylor, Missouri struggled to get fully back into it as they were unable to tie the game or take the lead until a three pointer by Marcus Denmon with 43 seconds left gave Missouri the lead 84-83.

Taylor and Denmon traded two more baskets to put the game at 86-85, Missouri. With just eight seconds left, a foul was called on Phil Pressey as he defended Tyshawn Taylor on his way into the lane.

In a situation similar to the one in Columbia just three weeks earlier, Taylor had two free throws to drastically change the entire outlook of the game. Though he missed both in Columbia, Taylor made both to give the Jayhawks a one-point lead, 87-86, with just over eight seconds left.

Following the made free throws, Dixon chose to jog the ball up the court, wasting time that could have been crucial for the Tigers. Dixon passed the ball to Marcus Denmon as time expired and gave the Jayhawks the win. Denmon, however, released a shot just as the buzzer sounded, and ended up making that shot just a second too late.

In the final regular season Big 12 matchup between these two teams, Kansas came away with a victory on their home court. Though there are no official plans between these two teams to meet in the non-conference part of the schedule in the coming years, both schools have stated that they would be open to talks in later years.

Following the loss, Missouri heads back home to Columbia as they play their final home game of the year against Iowa State. The game will be on Feb. 29 at 5 p.m. CT.

– Ben Yarrington
23 Sports
Staff Writer