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Missouri basketball gets lost in the Phog

Missouri faltered in notoriously tough Allen Fieldhouse.

Junior Justin Safford reaches to help sophomore teammate Kim English as he falls after a jump during a game against Kansas on Monday in Allen. The Kansas defense held English to 9 points, less than his average of 15 points per game.

Katie Currid/Senior Staff Photographer
Spencer Pearson/Graphic Designer

Jan. 26, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Look up to the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse and your gaze will meet banners documenting one of the most successful men's basketball programs in NCAA history.

Final Four appearances, conference championships and retired numbers of Kansas greats adorn the ceiling and walls of the revered 54-year-old arena.

On the north wall, five national championship banners hang below an ominous warning: "Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware of 'The Phog.' "

This tribute to former Kansas coach F.C. "Phog" Allen comes as another warning to the dangers of the arena to any who visit. It is into this crucible that opponents are thrown and few come out with a win.

In fact, no one has come out with a win the last 54 times Kansas has taken its home court, the longest such streak in the nation.

A sea of blue and a little red greeted Missouri (or rather, vocally announced how unwelcome it was), as the Tigers stumbled to an 84-65 loss in Lawrence.

Allen Fieldhouse has been a house of horrors for the Tigers this past decade; Missouri's last win at Kansas came in 1999.

A sellout crowd of 16,300 attended the game, and despite the outcome becoming pretty clear as the second half went on, a good amount of fans could still be found as the final seconds clicked off the clock.

The sellout was Kansas' 142nd straight.

"They have fans and we have fans at our home," senior forward Keith Ramsey. "You got to just go in the place and feel like they're cheering for you. I know it's a tough a place, when they make shots everybody goes crazy, but you got to go ahead and counter that and make your next shot."

Nothing comes easy when playing on the Jayhawks' home court, especially when a player is doing it for the first time.

Freshman guard Mike Dixon played 13 minutes and scored only two points on 1-of-7 shooting. Junior forward Justin Safford saw the effect the crowd had on Missouri's younger players.

"I think it kind of sped them up a little bit," Safford said. "I think you could tell by the quick shots."

Quick shots or not, few were falling for Missouri. The Tigers' shooting doldrums continued with them hitting just 27.9 percent from the field. In five conference games, Missouri has not shot greater than 45.3 percent.

Coach Mike Anderson identified poor shooting as one of the ways the home crowd can take control.

"If we don't make shots it's going to affect us in a lot of ways," Anderson said. "When you make shots and you're at home, a dunk, a shot, your energy level goes up. The opposing team's energy level is probably not where it should be."

There was no doubt where the energy was at the end of the game. As the waning seconds dripped off the clock, sounds of "Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU" echoed throughout the arena.

Although it might not be the most pleasant experience in the Big 12, Anderson said it was a necessary one for his team to endure.

"Our guys got to go through this because we're going to play some good basketball teams coming up," Anderson said.

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