LAWRENCE, Kan. — The last time the Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers faced each other in basketball was in 2012.
Kansas won 87-86 in overtime of a 19-point, second-half comeback thriller at Allen Fieldhouse.
At that time, both teams were ranked in the top 10.
This year, Kansas (7-1) is ranked eighth in the nation with Bill Self still at the helm, while Mizzou (5-4) is on their second coach since then and have yet to beat a team this season with a top 100 RPI ranking.
Although the Jayhawks are heavy favorites in this Border War, record books are thrown out in all rivalries and there is always a chance.
How Mizzou can win
The Tigers have to play the best they have played all season.
Kansas’ only loss was to Dayton, who won on a buzzer-beater, just a few weeks ago.
The key to Dayton’s win was the runs they went on in the second half. They went into the second half down 45-35 and got hot on offense while playing good defense and limiting turnovers.
Sounds like an easy recipe, but it’ll be a tough task for the Tigers to do.
Their leading scorer Kobe Brown is averaging 15 points a game and is shooting 54% from the floor. He’ll be heavily targeted on the block and to move around the floor.
In Mizzou’s best win of the season, an 80-75 overtime win over Southern Methodist, Brown shot 8-15 overall for 24 points with three of them coming from beyond the arc and seven rebounds.
In that game, second-leading scorer Amari Davis only hit three shots but made all seven of his free throws to have 14 points. Davis has more than 1,000 career points as a Tiger and will need all of his skill to get a win vs. KU.
Third-leading scorer Ronnie DeGray is a forward that came off the bench for Tigers that had 18 points vs. SMU: 5-6 from the floor and hit all six of his free throws along with two three-pointers.
In Mizzou’s win over SMU, they shot 21% in the first half and 52% in the second half. They cannot afford to come out slow and sloppy against the Jayhawks. If they do, the game will be over early like most of their losses this season.
They have to come out fast, cause turnovers, and be efficient in each possession to keep it close.
And if they keep it close, anything can happen.
How Kansas can win
They can’t. Just kidding. But it will be hard for them to lose.
The Jayhawks have one of the top scorers in the nation in Ochai Agbaji. He’s an efficient scorer at guard averaging around 23 points a game and shooting 57% from the floor and 46% from three.
Easily one of the best players in the nation. If he’s on, the Jayhawks will cruise.
Ogbaji along with Blue Valley Northwest’s Christian Braun and Arizona State transfer Remy Martin make up the Jayhawks leading scorers.
In the Jayhawks’ loss to Dayton, they were out-rebounded 32-24, they hit zero threes in the second half and they were 9-20 from the charity stripe.
Little things like that, you can overcome; they only lost to Dayton on a buzzer-beater.
But a loss is a loss, and Mizzou could take advantage if the Jayhawks don’t take care of the little things.
The best way for KU to win is to suffocate Mizzou early. It’s going to be rocking in Lawrence for both teams but if the Jayhawks jump to a big lead early with the crowd on their side, it’ll be tough for Mizzou to overcome.
But in a rivalry, anything can happen.
The Border War tips off at 2:15 p.m. central on ESPN.