Had I not watched what transpired Saturday night with my grandfather and my three year-old boy I might have drank myself in to a coma.
Missouri (25-4, 12-4) and Kansas (24-5, 14-2) squared off for the last time in Big 12 play at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas came out of overtime victorious after Mizzou blew a 19 point second half lead. The Tigers had the ball at the end of both regulation and overtime with a chance to win it.
As we know it, this 105-year-old rivalry, fueled by death, is coming to an end.
Jayhwak All-American Thomas Robinson was able to take advantage of Ricardo Ratliffe’s foul trouble as he torched the Tigers for 28 points and 12 rebounds. Robinson capped off a three-point play with a free throw with sixteen seconds left in regulation to send this instant classic to over time.
The talented, yet inconsistent, Tyshawn Taylor added a clutch 24 points for the Jayhwaks and drilled the two winning free throws with eight seconds left in overtime to clinch the win for the Jayhawks.
Some Tigers came to play, other not so much. Marcus Denmon contributed 28 points which included a 3 pointer with forty-three seconds left in regulation to give the Tigers a 1 point lead and a runner with twelve seconds left in overtime to also give the Tigers a 1 point lead. He had eight of the Tigers eleven points in overtime. Guard Matt Pressey fouled out of the game with ZERO points.
The two rivals would trade jabs throughout the first half, until the final five minutes. With the game tied at 31 with five minutes remaining Mizzou went on a 13-1 run to close the first half to hold a 44-32 half time lead.
The Tigers could have not gotten off to a better start. Ricardo Ratliffe had 8 points just 5 minutes into the game. He limited Jayhwak’s 7 foot center, Jeff Whithey throughout the contest. Whithey was also a non-factor in the Jayhawks loss in Columbia in early February, but had averaged 16.2 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game since that loss. Whithey had to leave the game three minutes into the first half with an ankle sprain. He would return, but only to get into foul trouble and limit himself to just nine minutes.
The Tigers came out in the second half just as strongly as they finished the first. They did the unthinkable: quieting Phog Allen Fieldhouse. But that didn’t last long. The Jayhawks were 89-1 in their last 90 games at home. The Tigers built a 19-point lead early in the second half only to watch it slowly dwindle away. The Jayhawks struggled severely from the free throw line (22-33), but most of those misses came in the first half. The Tigers racked up 22 fouls with seniors Ricardo Ratliffe committing four and Matt Pressey fouling out.
Phil Pressey and Ricardo Ratliffe’s foul trouble late in the second half limited Mizzou severely on offense. The Tigers went on a five-minute scoring drought with the two on the bench.
With Missouri’s foul trouble, Kansas was able to get easy baskets at the rim late in the second half. Robinson was somehow wide open under the Missouri basket with just sixteen seconds left. He took the feed inside and turned it into a three-point play to force the game into overtime after being fouled by Michael Dixon.
Missouri had a chance to win it at the end of regulation as Phil Pressey drove the ball inside as the last seconds dwindled down,but not before Robinson sent Pressey to the floor and swatted the attempted shot like a beach ball.
TyshawnTaylor opened up over-time with a 3-point jumper that gave Kansas its first lead since 6:15 remaining in the first half. Marcus
Denmon would respond with two 3’s of his own but it would not be enough. After Tyshawn Taylor hit two free throws with eight seconds left to give the Jayhawks a one point lead Michael Dixon and the Tigers failed to get a shot off as time expired in overtime.
An objective viewer of this game would have to say Missouri blew a golden opportunity and gift wrapped this victory for Kansas. An objective viewer would also admit the refs took this game over; it seemed as if they were on a date with Phog Allen.
Either way you look at it, Kansas capitalized on Missouri mistakes. They converted clutch free throws at the end of regulation to tie it and nailed even more clutch free throws at the end of overtime to win it.
Missouri buckled while Kansas thrived off the pressure.
Missouri potentially still has one more shot at the Jayhawks in the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament.
But nothing could replace the significance of what a win would have meant at Allen Fieldhouse for Missouri.
Now, Missouri and Kansas are left to despise each other without any more games being played between the two schools?
This makes no sense.