Mizzou loses border war battle to Kansas - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Mizzou loses border war battle to Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - It was the best atmosphere that Kansas

coach Bill Self could remember. Thomas Robinson said the Jayhawks

rose to another level. Tyshawn Taylor simply smiled, shook his head

in disbelief, and tried to describe his emotions.

"I'm so proud of my teammates," he said finally. "They stuck

it out, man."

In the final scheduled game between Kansas and Missouri, it was

only fitting the two bitter adversaries would need five extra

minutes to decide it.

Robinson's three-point play in the waning moments of regulation

kept their 105-year-old rivalry alive, and Taylor's foul shots with

8.3 seconds remaining gave the fourth-ranked Jayhawks a dramatic

87-86 victory over the No. 3 Tigers on Saturday.

"That couldn't have been scripted a lot better for us," said

Self, whose team wrapped up a share of an unprecedented eighth

straight conference championship. "I'm not the most emotional guy,

but that's about as good as it gets."

Missouri, which blew a 19-point second-half lead, never got off

a winning try after Taylor's two free throws. Michael Dixon was

boxed in by Robinson as he tried to get to the basket, and the

buzzer eventually sounded on a series steeped in tradition.

"These guys played their hearts out. We left it on the court,"

Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "I read everything - we weren't

supposed to be in the game. We came out and competed."

Robinson finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds for Kansas

(24-5, 14-2), which sent the Tigers off to the Southeastern

Conference with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Taylor added 24 points and five assists, and Connor Teahan

knocked down all four of his 3-pointers as the Jayhawks mounted

their big second-half charge.

"Just the whole situation combined made it one of the best

victories I've been a part of," said Teahan, who was a freshman on

the 2008 national championship team.

Marcus Denmon had 28 points to lead Missouri (25-4, 12-4).

Ricardo Ratliffe finished with 22 points, Dixon added 17 and Kim

English had 11.

"We had the game in our hands," English said. "We gave them a

gift."

The Tigers were controlling the game early in the second half,

but Kansas methodically chopped away, Robinson working inside and

the Jayhawks taking advantage of the Tigers' foul trouble.

Robinson's basket inside with 2:28 remaining got the Jayhawks

within 71-70, and Travis Releford answered a basket by Denmon with

two free throws. Ratliffe restored a three-point lead with two foul

shots of his own, but the Jayhawks still had time to draw even.

Robinson took a feed in the post and backed down Dixon, getting

his leaner to go as he was undercut for the foul. His free throw

with 16.1 seconds left tied the game at 75.

"I want to see that foul," Haith said afterward.

The Tigers had the final possession, clearing the lane for Phil

Pressey to drive to the rim. But Robinson was there once more,

swatting away his shot to force overtime.

"I think I had my eyes closed, to be honest with you,"

Robinson said.

Kansas struck first in the extra session when Taylor curled in a

3-pointer. Denmon's 3 kept the Tigers close, and another 3 from the

wing with 39 seconds left gave them an 84-83 lead.

Taylor pushed Kansas back ahead when he dunked off a bounce pass

from Elijah Johnson with 26.2 seconds left, and Denmon's baseline

jumper with 12 seconds to go set up some high drama.

As if the series could have ended any other way.

"It's a great rivalry. It's two schools that fiercely don't

like each other, hooking up and going after it," Self said. "We

saw the best they had to offer, they saw the best we had to offer,

and it's sad to see it end, but playing once a year with nothing in

it doesn't mean as much."

The schools started playing in 1907, and joined the same

conference the following year, setting the stage for more than a

century of animosity. There have been bench-clearing brawls,

game-winning shots and enough colorful characters to make both

sides proud.

But all that will end with the Tigers leaving for the SEC.

Officials from Kansas have no intention playing out of conference,

feeling as though Missouri jilted fellow members of the Big 12 and

nearly brought the league to ruin with their decision to depart.

"This game meant a lot to both schools, both teams - maybe the

last time we play," Haith said. "That'd be sad if you saw the

atmosphere out there today, and the atmosphere in our place - it'd

be sad if we don't play. I don't understand it. It's too good of a

game."

Students began lining up for prime seats at daybreak last

Sunday, and thousands formed a mob outside Allen Fieldhouse leading

up to tipoff. They poured into the venerable gym the moment the

doors cracked open, working themselves into a wall of noise during

player introductions.

The sound registered at 120.2 decibels, roughly equal to that of

a jet engine.

The opening few minutes of the 267th meeting lived up to the

billing, both teams pounding away at each other with the passion

and fury that can only be cultivated over time.

"That was the best atmosphere for a stretch there," Taylor

said. "I couldn't even hear."

The lead went back-and-forth until the 4:43 mark, when Johnson

picked up his third foul and Pressey's free throws gave Missouri a

33-31 lead. Robinson was called for charging moments later, and

Pressey added a 3-pointer to give the Tigers some breathing room.

The lead slowly began to grow, and when Denmon tracked down a

loose ball and hit a 3 to close the first half, the Tigers had

built a 44-32 lead.

It grew to 19 points after the break, and that deafening noise

inside the Phog? Well, it was quiet enough that the cheerleaders'

pom-pons could be heard from the stands.

It didn't stay that way for long.

The Jayhawks slowly climbed back into the game, and the volume

slowly began to rise. Kevin Young's dunk and Teahan's 3-pointer got

the crowd on its feet, and Robinson's third-chance basket trimmed

the lead to 67-58 with 8:56, forcing Haith to call a timeout.

The Jayhawks simply kept coming, persevering through their own

foul trouble and ultimately relying on their two best players -

Robinson and Taylor - when it mattered most.

Kansas's 22nd straight win at Allen Fieldhouse ensured its 12th

title in the 16-year history of the Big 12, one that will be

especially sweet given the circumstances.

"Words can't even describe it, for real," Taylor said.

"That's what we play our season for. After every huddle we yelled,

`Big 12 champions,' because that's what we want to be."

At the expense of Missouri, that's what they are.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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