On Saturday night at a sold out Mizzou Arena, the #4 Missouri Tigers (21-2, 8-2) came back from the dead, and defeated the #8 Kansas Jayhawks (18-5, 8-2) by the final score of 74-71, to move into a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12 Conference standings.
After Kansas' National Player of the year candidate, 6'10" junior Thomas Robinson, dominated the first 16 minutes of the second half, on his way to 25 points and 13 rebounds, the Tigers trailed 71-63 with under 3 minutes remaining in the game.
"Robinson is such a load," explained Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith, following his team's come-from-behind Border War win. "He's tremendous! He's hard to guard, in terms of he's just so physical, and he posts so hard. We got to him with our double-teams in the first half, and then they started making jump shots. That made it tough for us to send guys on him. He's a heck of a player! We knew we had to score."
Then, Missouri's Marcus Denmon, who finished the night with 29 points and 9 rebounds, scored 9 points on Missouri's next three possessions to put Missouri ahead 72-71. Denmon converted a conventional three-point play, then hit a pair of monumental 3-PT shots on back-to-back possessions.
"We had some really good execution late game, where we got Marcus loose for some shots," said Coach Haith. "But he made some big, big plays. That one J he hit, they were all over him. He just rose up and knocked it down."
With time running down, Kansas' 6'3" senior guard Tyshawn Taylor drove the lane for a layup that would give the Jayhawks the lead. But, Michael Dixon stepped in front of Taylor, and drew a charging foul. Dixon, who finished with 15 points, was fouled as Missouri attempted to inbound the basketball, and the junior guard hit both free throws to stretch Missouri's lead to 3 points. Kansas inbounded the ball with 10 seconds on the clock, and Missouri dug in defensively to deny the Jayhawks a decent look at the basket on their final possession.
Taylor scored 21 points for the Jayhawks, who join Missouri and Baylor in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 Conference standings.
For Missouri, Kim English scored 18 points.
This was a well-played contest, and was just as close as the score would suggest. For much of the second half, it appeared that the ferocious inside play of Robinson would carry the Jayhawks to victory. But, Marcus Denmon refused to lose on this historic occasion.
"Sometimes, I'm fortunate enough to make shots like that," said Denmon, in his usual humble fashion. "I'm glad my guys fought, and we came out with the win."