Tigers take down KU

It was the game that all Missouri fans had expected from this team, at the most unexpected moment. The Tigers jumped out to a large early lead and held on late to defeat #7 Kansas in the Mizzou Arena.

Why was this win unexpected?

First, Missouri had failed to score 100 points combined over the previous two games.

Second, Quin Snyder's record vs. Bill Self. Before Sunday, Self held a spotless record vs. Snyder.

Third, the Tigers young point guard, Jason Horton, had been suspended for an unspecified reason for the Kansas game.

Fourth, Kansas was playing for the outright conference championship.

Fifth, the attendance at the new Mizzou Arena has been disappointing to say the least. While it has technically been sold out, the Tigers have played to 1/2 to 2/3 full crowds for most of the season.

Finally, KU came into the game healthy, sporting two players who will receive votes for conference player of the year in Aaron Miles and Wayne Simien.

Virtually every sign pointed to Kansas beating Missouri again and using the game as a warm up for the upcoming Big 12 Conference Tournament.

As Chris Berman from ESPN likes to say, "This is why we play the games!"

Missouri shot out of the gates hard and fast against a stunned Jayhawk team. Almost everything Missouri threw up in the first half landed in the basket. Shooting 8-10 (80%) from behind the arc in the first half, Missouri had its best first half three-point shooting percentage of the season, compared to KU's 4-13 (30.8%).

This was to be the shooting game that Snyder had expected from Thomas Gardner and Jimmy McKinney all season, but had not received until now.

Several career best were either tied or set Sunday by Missouri. Linas Kleiza tied his personal mark of 14 boards in a single game, while Gardner matched his single game scoring mark of 23 points.

But, it was undoubtedly the play of Jimmy McKinney that carried the day for Mizzou. McKinney scored a career high 21 points on a 6-7 shooting afternoon, and was also 3-3 from beyond the arc. McKinney was perfect from the line as well, going 6-6.

Oh, and for good measure, McKinney chipped in four assists playing virtually the entire game at the point.

This was Missouri's most balanced effort of the season, and it would take solid contributions from the entire rotation to beat a team like Kansas.

Kevin Young probably had his best defensive game of his career holding Simien to 17 points and 9 boards.

It was Mizzou's first game against Kansas in their new arena, and it was arguably their sweetest moment of the season on Sunday.

The Tigers finished their regular season at .500 (15-15), and go into their first round game vs. Nebraska in the Conference Tournament in Kansas City with some needed momentum and confidence.


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