LAWRENCE, Kan. -- On the way back from practice to the team’s hotel Saturday, the bus carrying the Missouri men’s basketball team was involved in a multiple car accident outside Overland Park, Kan.
Call it an accident or simply call it a crash, but either way, it could have been a metaphor for the weekend.
The No. 8 Tigers walked into Allen Fieldhouse for Sunday’s nationally televised game against the No. 15 Kansas Jayhawks with their Big 12 destiny in hand, but left with no such claim after a 90-65 rout.
“It was their day today,” coach Mike Anderson said.
On Feb. 9 in Columbia, the Tigers (25-5, 11-3 Big 12) played “a horrible game,” senior forward Leo Lyons said, and still managed to come out with an epic 62-60 win. Missouri survived a horrid first half that ended with Kansas leading 30-16.
Sunday in Lawrence, the Tigers couldn’t repeat the feat. Missouri’s offense was dormant and Kansas (24-5, 13-1) drained field goals at will in the first half, as the Jayhawks used a 14-0 run to storm out to a 45-19 halftime lead.
“That’s the best half of basketball we’ve seen here in 11 months since Carolina,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, referencing the first half of Kansas’ 84-66 win against North Carolina in the 2008 NCAA Tournament semifinals.
Kansas’ bench players outscored Missouri’s bench, which is generally regarded as one of Missouri’s strengths, 15-0 in the first half.
In fact, only three Tigers, junior J.T. Tiller and seniors Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, scored for Missouri in the half. Kansas’ bench outscored the Missouri bench 25-6 for the game.
“Our bench isn’t perfect,” Lyons said. “They had a lot of confidence coming into the game, but they met their master today.”
Kansas shot 56 percent from the field and 57 percent from 3-point range. Missouri shot 36 percent from the field and 18 percent from deep. Carroll said the numbers were a reflection of the Tigers’ shot selection.
“We took too many jumpers. We were living and dying by the jump shot,” Carroll said. “We didn’t get to the goal and attack.”
All season long, Missouri players reiterated the team’s high-pressure defense was the spark plug for its offense. Missouri’s ability to turn steals into counter attacks has generally resulted in a Missouri advantage in fast break points.
Kansas outscored Missouri on the fast break 18-6, including 11 fast break points to Missouri’s zero in the first half.
“They were pushing the ball right back down our throats,” Lyons said. “That’s normally what we want to do to teams, and they did it to us.”
Although Missouri was far stronger offensively in the second half, the game still degenerated into a highlight reel of jumpers by KU junior Sherron Collins and alley-oops by sophomore Cole Aldrich.
With 1:51 left in the game, Self made wholesale substitutions, giving his little-used players a chance to play and his crowd a chance to begin the “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk” chant.
The loss pushed Missouri’s winless streak in Lawrence to 10 years. Missouri returns to action Wednesday, when the Tigers face the Oklahoma Sooners at Mizzou Arena.