LAWRENCE, Kan. — Monday night, the Tigers suffered the same fate as the previous 53 teams that dared enter the hostile grounds of Allen Fieldhouse. The No. 2 Jayhawks dominated the Tigers in almost every aspect of play, and Missouri fell to its conference rival 84-65.
"It just seemed like all of a sudden, the game opened up," coach Mike Anderson said. "It was an eight-point game, nine-point game, double-digit lead. And we had some opportunities to cut it, but we didn't. But give Kansas credit. They took the fight to us and really dominated the glass."
The Jayhawks doubled Missouri's rebound production, 56-28. Junior Cole Aldrich brought down 16 of those boards. The 6-foot-11-inch center was a dominating force all night, and the Tigers had no answer for him.
Aldrich recorded his eighth double-double of the season, contributing 12 points as well. He and the Jayhawks mopped the floor with Missouri -- almost literally. Late in the first half, Aldrich relieved the ball boys and took care of a little spill on the floor. It was a telling statement of the game.
"His presence kind of altered our guys' shots," junior forward Justin Safford said. "Guys were hesitant to go into the lane and attack him."
Safford was one of the lone bright spot for the overmatched Tigers. He recorded a career-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. But his teammates struggled to make shots.
As a team, the Tigers shot 27.9 percent from the field, a far cry from their game average of 45.6 percent. Missouri made only 10 of 40 shots in the first half, and shot 9-of-28 in the second half. The shooting woes, coupled with Kansas' stingy defense, made the already difficult task of winning at Allen Fieldhouse nearly impossible.
"When you're on the road, you have to put the ball in the hole, and we didn't do that," Anderson said. "When you look at the shooting, sometimes it's the kind of shots that you're taking. And I think we have to get more efficient in that department."
Anderson's team was disappointed in its own offensive performance.
"We should have been attacking more and getting to the foul line more," senior forward Keith Ramsey said. "In the first half, we shot about four free throws and they took about 12."
Missouri played Kansas close early in the first half. After finding themselves with an early deficit, the Tigers came back to take the lead 12-11. But the thunderous crowd might have given a jolt to the Jayhawks who proceeded to bust off a 14-3 run to gain control of the game.
The run was not unexpected from the second-ranked team in the country. Coming into the night, Kansas was averaging 84.9 points per game, second in the Big 12. Defensively, the Jayhawks are just as impressive, giving up only 61.5 points per game.
Traveling to Lawrence is a tall task for any team. And though they are disappointed in the result, the Tigers view this game as a learning experience.
"In this type of atmosphere, I think our youth kind of showed in some instances," Safford said. "That's just another excuse and we don't like to look at excuses. But this was a learning game for our team."