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Tigers ready for another shot at Jayhawks

The Tigers learned from their loss against Kansas earlier in the season.

Missouri sophomore forward Laurence Bowers goes up for a rebound Jan. 25 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. Missouri gets a rematch with Kansas this Saturday after losing to the Jayhawks earlier this year.

Katie Currid/Senior Staff Photographer
Katie Prince/Graphic Designer

March 5, 2010

It wasn't a memorable night for the Missouri basketball team.

Back in late January, No. 2 Kansas aggressively defended its home court in a dominating 84-65 win over Missouri and watched as the Tigers streaked out of Lawrence, Kan., with their tails between their legs.

But, with another matchup looming at the end of the season, it wasn't a game the Tigers would completely erase from their memories.

"That's something that we didn't forget," senior guard J.T. Tiller said. "That game's a learning experience, and we used it throughout the Big 12 season, so we're going to see if we can all just come together on Saturday."

Part two of the Missouri-Kansas rivalry will go down at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena, and it will be an opportunity for the Tigers (22-8, 10-5 Big 12) to show what they learned from the first matchup earlier this season.

"It's a big game in a lot of ways," coach Mike Anderson said. "I think because of who it is, you just throw the records out. It's going to be a war."

One player Missouri is prepared to battle with is Jayhawk junior center Cole Aldrich. Controlling the paint on both ends of the floor, Aldrich scored 12 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and guarded the Kansas basket effectively in the win earlier this season.

Sophomore forward Laurence Bowers knows hesitant offensive play against Kansas won't produce many points.

"I feel like we can attack Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins; we've just got to finish stronger," Bowers said. "In that game, we got to rack, but we didn't finish strong, myself in particular. I would get to the rim but, kind of knowing that Cole Aldrich is a shot blocker, I'd try to get it to where he couldn't block it and I wouldn't finish."

Aldrich's presence wasn't only felt through his altering of shots. With a large amount of help from Aldrich, the Jayhawks doubled up Missouri on the boards, 56 to 28. Adding to the challenge, the Tigers will be without junior forward Justin Safford, their leading rebounder in that game.

Aside from points and rebounds, composure could play an important role in the matchup. Going up against a team as well-rounded and deep as Kansas demands a cohesive group effort, something Tiller wants from the Tigers.

"We've just got to stick together as a team," Tiller said. "We can't try to do it as individuals. We've got to really just gel together, play together and just trust and rely on each other to do the things that we're really good at, to really have the best chance at winning this game."

Atmosphere plays a large role in this rivalry, and Kansas fed off the energy of a sold-out crowd in getting to a 20-point halftime advantage against the Tigers. But Missouri will also have the benefit of playing in front of a packed house. Add that to what's sure to be emotional pre-game ceremonies honoring Tiller and seniors guard Zaire Taylor and forward Keith Ramsey, and Mizzou Arena should not be lacking energy at tipoff.

"I think you're going to have two teams that are going to really lay it on the line," Anderson said. "I think our guys are really looking forward to the challenge. I mean, you're talking about one of the best teams in the country."

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