Scouting Missouri

News, notes and quotes on the Border War matchup between No. 2 KU and No. 14 Missouri tonight at 8 in Allen Fieldhouse on ESPN Big Monday while thinking this Kansas team might be the best passing squad since the 1989-90 Jayhawks led by Kevin Pritchard and Mark Randall.

Brent Musburger, Bob Knight and Holly Rowe will call the action for ESPN.

KU is 22-1 and 7-1 in the Big 12 following its 86-66 win at Nebraska on Saturday.

SCOUTING MISSOURI

MU returns eight letterwinners and two starters off last season's team, which went 23-11 and 10-6 in the Big 12. The Tigers (18-5, 4-4 Big 12) ended a two-game losing streak (losses at Texas and at Oklahoma State) with an 89-73 home victory over Colorado Saturday.

Missouri is 14-0 at home this season, 1-4 on the road, and 3-1 on neutral courts.

Junior guard Marcus Denmon leads the Tigers in scoring at 16.7 points per game. He has made a team-high 56 three-pointers while his 45.9 percent shooting from three-point range ranks second in the Big 12. Denmon also leads MU with 48 steals.

Junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe is second on the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game (leads MU with 6.8 rpg and a 58.8 field goal percentage), followed by junior guard Kim English (10.8 ppg), junior forward Laurence Bowers (10.7 ppg, 2.1 bpg ranks second in league), sophomore guard Michael Dixon (10.4 ppg, team-high 86 assists), junior guard Matt Pressey (7.1 ppg), senior forward Justin Safford (6.8 ppg) and freshman guard Phil Pressey (6.3 ppg, 75 assists).

MU leads the Big 12 in scoring offense at 83.3 points per game while allowing 69.2. The Tigers are shooting 46.6 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from three-point range, and 72 percent at the free-throw line. They're holding opponents to 41.5 percent shooting and 31.6 percent from beyond the arc, while barely outrebounding foes 37.6 to 37.3 boards per game.

Head coach Mike Anderson's team leads the conference in blocked shots (5.6), steals (10.0) and turnover margin (+5.5).

SELF ON THE TIGERS

KU coach Bill Self is very impressed with MU.

"I like this one as much as any team he's (Anderson) had because of the low post presence," Self said. "They can throw it to a guy (down low where MU is led by Ratliffe and Bowers) and he can come away with two points. Their guards are interchangeable and as quick as they have ever been. I really like Mike's team."

Anderson's Tigers create havoc on defense with their relentless full-court pressure. Self said KU needs to be aggressive and "attack their pressure."

"Sometimes we've had success doing that and sometimes we have not at all," Self said. "It's going to be a game of spurts. We'll look really good for a period of time and they'll look really good for a period of time. I just hope we have more long stretches than they do. They are a team that you can't get hung up on turning it over. When you put that much pressure on people, you will turn it over some. We have to make sure we limit our turnovers and take care of the basketball in attack mode. Then when we do screw up, we need to make sure mistakes don't lead to easy baskets."

SELBY STATUS

Self said freshman guard Josh Selby is doubtful for the game with a stress reaction in his right foot. Selby sprained his ankle against K-State on Jan. 29 and did not play against Nebraska on Saturday.

PRAISE FOR DENMON

Self is high on Denmon, who has made rapid strides from last season, when he averaged 10.4 points per game.

"I know he's good," Self said. "I've always liked his game going back to high school. He's really matured into a really, really good college player; for sure a first-team all-league player and the most improved player in our league. He's a model of consistency, which is something that every team needs."

Denmon is from Kansas City, Mo., and starred at Hogan Prep.

BIG-TIME RIVALRY

The KU-MU Border War is one of the best rivalries in college hoops.

"I was part of a great Missouri rivalry when I was at Illinois. This one is more intense and there is more hatred," Self said. "I think this stems back from the area of the country where people were raised. It comes back to statehood. There is certainly a lot of pride in both states and this is the game that people circle."

THE SERIES

Kansas leads the all-time series with Missouri, 169-94, including an 87-33 record in games played in Lawrence and 40-14 in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks have won the last 11 meetings in Allen Fieldhouse dating back to 2000.

KU has won three straight, eight of the last nine and 12 of the last 15 meetings with MU. Tonight's game will mark the 41st KU-MU game with one or both of the teams ranked.

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