The Tigers have been as bad since these teams last met, as the Jayhawks have been good. Kansas won its ninth straight game and continues its collision course with Texas next weekend while Missouri has now lost seven of its last eight games.
It’s been a rough week in Columbia and never have the shirts that float around campus with the word, “Misery” printed on them rang so true. It was only the second game without Quin Snyder at the helm but things haven’t been any easier for interim coach Melvin Watkins.
This one was over long before the HALFTIME buzzer and after the break Missouri went on to miss 17 straight field goals. The Tigers shot 32 percent for the game which should give the nation’s leading defensive team (according to field goal percentage) a nice little boost. A combination of good defense and poor offense usually both contribute to win as lopsided as this one. But the Tigers definitely gave the nation’s top defensive team (by field goal percentage) a boost Saturday.
"I think a lot of it was good defense, and I think a lot of it was just because (Missouri) was missing shots. The great thing about it is that when they missed, we cleaned up. Jeff (Hawkins) played great in the first half. I thought C.J. (Giles) was great off the bench. I thought everybody did some good things. It was a good win, and it was good to see everybody play,” Self stated during his postgame press conference.
Kansas has its own version of the “Steel Curtain”. It’s the 14th time an opponent has scored less than 59 points – by the way, KU is 13-1 in those games. During the Jayhawks current nine-game win streak only Iowa State was able to shoot over 40 percent from the floor for the game. Coach Bill Self knows the focus must remain on the defensive end for KU’s success to continue.
“We have to because we’re going to go through times where we labor to score,” stated Self. “Guys are buying into guarding. They really are. Oklahoma State, I think they shot in the 30’s. Iowa State shot like 45 or 46 percent and that was the best anybody shot all year.”
"We do the shell drill everyday in practice. It's plain to see that coach stresses so much defense and details. He wants us to be sound defensively. It starts by getting out and pressuring. Mario (Charmers) and Russell (Robinson) were picking their spots on when to gamble and get steals,” according to freshman Julian Wright. “It doesn't allow the other team to get into an offensive flow. It takes their confidence away.”
“We need to keep teams in the 30’s especially when you play at home. That’s got to be a goal of ours. In order to give yourself the best chance to win on the road, you need to keep the percentages down as well. This team looks at that. If you hold teams to a low percentage and you out-rebound them--you’re probably doing a pretty good job,” said Self.
Self didn’t have to worry about the rebounding (41-20), the defense, or his team’s focus in this one. Kansas could’ve started to look ahead to next Saturday’s possible Big 12 title matchup with Texas, but the Jayhawks were determined to exact revenge for a game they felt was theirs back on January 16th.
“It is nice to beat Missouri, but the locker room wasn't ecstatic. This team is like `Okay, that's what we're supposed to do. We'll be here at practice tomorrow’. I love their attitude,” said Self with a smile after coaching in his 400th career game.
Brandon Rush made up for the shot he didn’t take the first time Kansas met Missouri this season by scoring 11 of his 13 points early in the half. And Rush and his fellow teammates made darn sure this one didn’t come down to the last possession.
"We were in the barber shop last night, and we thought we could double them. That means to win by 20. We definitely were thinking about winning big. We just came out and did the right things today,” said sophomore guard Russell Robinson who had six steals in Saturday’s contest.