It's On

Kansas has been waiting for the Border War rematch against Missouri ever since the Tigers nipped KU, 62-60, in Columbia on Feb. 9.

KU and MU will battle again on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse with the game nationally televised on CBS.

The Jayhawks struggled mightily against MU's pressure defense in Columbia, committing a season-high 27 turnover and shooting just 41.8 percent from the field. After a poor first half by Missouri (the Tigers were down 30-16 at halftime), MU dominated the second half for its fourth straight victory. The Tigers are now on a seven-game winning streak and enter Sunday's contest winning 11 of their last 13 games.

While No. 15 KU (23-5, 12-1 Big 12) has the homecourt edge this time, Kansas coach Bill Self expects an even tougher battle against the No. 11 Tigers (24-4, 11-2).

"I told our guys as soon as the game was over (in Columbia) that it will be harder to beat Missouri at home than it was beating Missouri in Columbia because Missouri didn't play well against us," Self said. "They scored 16 points in the first half, this is a team that's averaging 80 points a game. In the second half they played really well and we didn't play very well, obviously.

"I believe this will be a harder game for us to win because I anticipate them coming in here and playing very well. They are a better team than they were back then, but on the flip side, I think we are a better team as well. It should be two really good teams playing Sunday."

Both KU and Missouri are playing for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament and a Big 12 championship. The Jayhawks need a win to stay in sole possession of first place in the conference, while a Missouri victory would tie KU and OU for first place.

Kansas, which has won 12 of its last 13 games, has been on a roll since the loss in Columbia with four straight wins. The Jayhawks are coming off an impressive 87-78 victory at No. 2 Oklahoma, where the Jayhawks rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit.

Missouri, meanwhile, enters the Border Showdown after whipping K-State, 94-74, at home on Wednesday. Senior forward DeMarre Carroll led the Tigers with 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. He also paced MU in its win over KU in Columbia with 22 points and seven rebounds.

MU raced out to a 23-point lead at halftime over the Wildcats.

"That first half was probably the best we've had since I've been here," head coach Mike Anderson said. "Our guys were very aggressive, and they had a lot of energy."

MU leads the Big 12 in scoring margin at +17.2, three-point field goal percentage defense at 30.9 percent, assists at 19, steals at 10.9, turnover margin at +6.8 and assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5.

Carroll paces the Tigers with 17.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while senior forward Leo Lyons ranks second in scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg). Senior guard Matt Lawrence is next in scoring at 8.9 ppg, followed by junior guard J.T. Tiller (7.8 ppg and team-high 50 steals and 100 assists), freshman guard Marcus Denmon (7.2 ppg), freshman guard Kim English (6.8 ppg), junior guard Zaire Taylor (5.3 ppg) and junior forward Keith Ramsey (4.1 ppg). Taylor hit the game-winner against KU in Columbia with 1.3 seconds remaining.

This is a deep team (10 players average at least 9.2 minutes per game with Carroll leading the team with just 26.9 mpg) which will throw extra bodies at KU all day. Kansas will have to play with great energy on Sunday and do a much better job of attacking MU's nonstop pressure defense.

"They're going to trap you once you get the ball," said junior guard Sherron Collins, who had six turnovers and just nine points in the last meeting. "We just have to attack the pressure. Once you get the ball, you've got to go. They're going to come up behind you and try to back-tap. We have to attack them and go to the rim."

The Jayhawks admitted MU's pressure caused fatigue in their last game.

"They really were relentless throughout the whole game," said sophomore center Cole Aldrich. "For 40 minutes they went press. It was tough. It can definitely wear teams out. I think we're going to be a little more prepared for it."

With a juiced Allen Fieldhouse crowd, Kansas has no intentions of breaking its nation-leading 39-game home-winning streak in this Border Showdown rematch.

The pain of losing at Columbia still lingers, a game which Collins thinks KU "gave away" with turnovers and making "dumb mistakes late in the game."

"It's Kansas-Missouri, and they beat us the first time," Collins said. "It's definitely a game we've been looking forward to. It's a game that we look forward to getting back."

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