Rapid Reaction: Missouri 74, Kansas 71
February, 4, 2012
By Jason King | ESPN.com
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Here are some quick thoughts from Missouri's classic 74-71 victory over Kansas at Mizzou Arena on Saturday, just the third time these two have ever met while both in the top 10.
Overview: Marcus Denmon scored 29 points, nine of which came in the final 2:05 as No. 4 Missouri rallied from eight down and ended the game on an 11-0 run to win in stunning fashion against bitter rival Kansas. KU led for most of the second half and the eight-point lead was the largest for either team the whole game, but Denmon swished a 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining that gave his team a 72-71 cushion. The Jayhawks had three more chances to score but failed each time, as they turned it over four times in the final three minutes.
Tyshawn Taylor turned the ball over on one possession and was called for charging on another. A pair of free throws by Michael Dixon put Mizzou ahead 74-71 with 9.8 seconds left. Elijah Johnson attempted to tie the game at the buzzer, but his 3-point attempt from the top of the key didn't hit the rim.
Missouri's victory forces a three-way tie for first in the Big 12 standings, as Mizzou, Kansas and Baylor are all 8-2. Saturday's game may have been the last between the two rivals in Columbia -- the Tigers are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC after this season and Kansas has indicated it doesn't have any interest in continuing the series.
Star of the game: Denmon is the obvious choice, but Kim English (18 points) and Dixon (15 points, 5 assists) both scored in double figures for Missouri. Thomas Robinson had 25 points and 13 boards for Kansas, while Taylor added 21.
What the win means for Missouri: The Tigers, who are still very much alive in the Big 12 title race, proved they can use speed, athleticism and superior outside shooting to beat a bigger, taller, longer team such as Kansas. There's no reason to believe this team can't make a significant run in March. It also moves first-year coach Frank Haith one step closer to the national coach-of-the-year award. If the season ended today, he'd be the obvious choice. Oh, and there's the end of that five-game losing streak to their hated rival to the west. That's pretty big, too.
What the loss means for Kansas: The Jayhawks actually performed somewhat admirably considering the environment and the talent level of their opponent. It's been obvious all season that this is clearly Bill Self's worst KU squad. The Jayhawks have limitations and zero room for error. Taylor and Robinson played great but this program still needs a third person to step up on a consistent basis.
Up next: Missouri has a quick turnaround with a road game at Oklahoma on Monday (7 ET, ESPNU), while Kansas travels to Waco, Texas, on Wednesday to take on Baylor (7 ET, ESPN2).