The Maneater

Tigers KO KU, 75-66

On a historic night, Missouri showed up in a big way.

Monday's border war against Kansas proved worthy of ESPN's Big Monday national broadcast, as the Tigers upset the No. 3 team in the nation, 75-66. For Missouri, the victory improved the team's record at the Hearnes Center to 10-0 this season.

Despite Missouri's 37-23 halftime lead, this one came down to the second half. An 18-0 Kansas run that gave the Jayhawks the lead was countered, and Missouri coach Quin Snyder credited his team for recovering.

"We've been able to play well in stretches," he said. "But we haven't been able to respond when a team has turned it up against us. We did that tonight."

Missouri's record improved to 14-6 and 5-2 in the Big 12, while Kansas fell to 17-2 overall and 6-1 in the conference.

Former Tiger coach Norm Stewart was honored at halftime with the naming of the Hearnes Center floor. "Norm Stewart Court" will emblazon the sidelines of arena surface from now on. Stewart's No. 22 jersey was also retired.

Sophomore forward Kareem Rush finished with 27 points, 17 coming after the halftime ceremony, again taking the scoring responsibility on his shoulders. Sophomore forward Drew Gooden led Kansas with 19 points.

The Jayhawks wasted several key opportunities via the free throw stripe to stave off the efforts of Rush and senior guard Brian Grawer. Kansas shot 6-for-13 in the second half from the line, including consecutive missed attempts from Gooden with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

"You have to get some breaks to beat a team like that," Snyder said.

Grawer subsequently added a couple of breaks to Kansas' back, hitting two straight three-pointers, virtually sealing the deal. Grawer said the shots were only part of his duties for the evening.

With at least four freshmen making major contributions to the Tigers' gameplan, the upperclassmen made leadership a necessity in this contest. Freshman Travon Bryant was one of the underclassmen to notice.

"This was our will to go out there and stay together," Bryant said. "The seniors wouldn't let us do that. They told us if we stayed together we would pull it out."

More importantly for Rush than his scoring effort Monday may have taken place a day earlier. After the Tiger's slim 66-64 victory over Texas Tech Saturday, Rush called a team meeting Sunday during which he told teammates the consequences if the team failed to improve their game.

"We looked at our schedule and saw that even if we played well, we still could lose," Rush said. "We broke down the season and showed that if we don't play well we will be another bubble team (in the NCAA Tournament) or may not even be in the tournament."

With wins like this, it is more likely to see the Tigers in the pool of 64 come March.

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