Let's just say this: yesterday, Missouri played its best game since the Notre Dame-California combo over Thanksgiving week. I'm not sure Kentucky would have withstood the absolutely ridiculous atmosphere yesterday and stayed within 10 points. I know Syracuse wouldn't have. Mizzou went into the most hostile sports venue on the planet (for at least a day), dealt with by far their worst foul trouble of the season, and lost by a point.
Teams not named Kansas do not win at Allen Fieldhouse, especially not in an atmosphere like what existed yesterday. But there was Missouri, building a big lead, then, after relinquishing it, giving themselves chances to win at the end of both regulation and overtime. They didn't win, and that still irks me a bit even this morning (I tend to recover from losses very, very quickly), but ... there is not a stage in the NCAA Tournament that will even approach the intensity and pressure of the one they faced yesterday. If they can almost win there, they can straight-up win any game, against any team, in any venue in March (and into April). Will they? I have no idea. Breaks go odd, cruel ways sometimes. But this team is special, and I'm ready to find out what will happen.
I know it is the inclination of some fans to focus on the blown lead, but … just as Mizzou overcame infinite matchup disadvantages and poor shooting to cut a 16-point Kansas State lead to three points on Tuesday night, you had to know that Kansas was going to make a huge run. Great teams with incredible home court advantages make runs. You just had to hope it wasn't a run that would bring them all the way back. Yes, Missouri helped out with iffy execution and quite a bit of olé defense stemming from epic foul trouble. But Kansas was simply going to come back. They just were.
And for those Rock M posters who only find reason to comment when something bad happens … well, you really need to assess what it is you get out of either sports, the Internet, or both. Your team's still 25-4, and after its best performance in months, you just publicly (sort of) jumped off of the bandwagon so hard that you skinned your knees on the landing. Embarrassing.
To the links!
The Trib: Tigers drop OT thriller against Jayhawks
The Trib: Foul disparity riles MU
Late in the Missouri basketball team's 87-86 overtime loss at Kansas yesterday afternoon, Frank Haith summoned an official to the Tigers' bench.
The first-year coach felt the officials were giving MU the standard road treatment — and then some.
"I was just hopeful we could get the same contact calls on both ends," Haith said. "If there's going to be a no-call, then there should be no-calls on the other end. That's the only thing I have conversations with the officials about. Contact is part of the game. If you're going to let plays go, then you've got to let them go at both ends."
The Missourian: Missouri comes up just short against Kansas
The Missourian: Allen Fieldhouse delivers wild atmosphere
KC Star: KU rallies for epic comeback Border War win
KC Star: KU comeback salvages historic day at Allen Fieldhouse
KC Star: Marcus Denmon gives Mizzou an edge when game is on the line
KC Star: Missouri feels pain of victory that slipped away
KC Star: Border War notebook | Jeff Withey injures ankle; Mike Dixon unhappy
KC Star: Five games, personalities that defined Border War basketball
KC Star (Joe Posnanski): We won't see a rivalry like this again
But this wasn’t any other game. This was the last time. Unlike many, I don’t really blame anyone for this ending. These are the times we live in. You can’t really blame Missouri for jumping into a great conference like the SEC. You can’t really blame Kansas for feeling a bit betrayed and for not wanting to play Missouri anymore (“We’re in Missouri’s past,” Self said. “They have to look to the future and so do we.”). You can’t stop progress or time. What is that line from the play “Inherit the Wind” about airplanes? “Mister you can conquer the air, but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.”
Mister, you can make college sports bigger and bigger, make more and more money, reach larger and larger audiences … but the conferences will look like gibberish and Kansas won’t play basketball against Missouri anymore.
When it ended, sure, there was some emptiness. Which takes us back to that kid holding the sign. He was across the court, so it was difficult for me to see him, but from what I can tell he looked to be maybe 18 or 19, and he was decked out in Kansas colors. His sign said: “KU Won’t MIZZ-you.”
And you know, it was relatively clever, as far as signs go. But something about it bothered me. I did want to walk over to him and whisper in his ear: “Yeah, you will, kid. You will miss Missouri. You will miss all this more than you can ever know.”
Post-Dispatch: MU falls in an epic finale to the Border War
Post-Dispatch (Bryan Burwell): This would be a sad finish to MU-KU rivalry
"This game meant a lot to both teams," said Haith, still able to appreciate the beauty of the rivalry in between comments dissecting the loss. "You saw the atmosphere out here today and the atmosphere at our place. It'd be sad if we don't play (again). I just don't understand it and hopefully we can continue to play. This is too good of a game and too good of a rivalry to not play."
The atmosphere Saturday was impossible to describe with words. Words do not adequately replicate the experience of absorbing the noise that topped 120 decibels at five or six points in this thrilling contest. This is like having your nose pressed against the hull of a 757 aircraft with the jet engines going full-bore for two hours. My ears still are ringing, and I want more. I want a lot more. I want this rivalry to keep going like a Groundhog Day dream, because this installment of the Border War might have been the finest of them all.
This is one of those games that disproves the silly theories from some folks that the college basketball regular season is meaningless. Tell that to the fans from both sides who turned Mizzou Arena and Allen Fieldhouse into the loudest places on earth.
Lawrence Journal-World: Kansas claims epic win in Border War finale
Lawrence Journal-World: Thomas Robinson 'great' against Tigers
Lawrence Journal-World: The end of the Border War in the words of former KU players
Lawrence Journal-World: Tiger coach laments War's end
PowerMizzou: Nation deserves another look at the Border War
PowerMizzou: Game at a glance
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Bitter Border War
- Rock Chalk Talk: A Fun Way To End a Great Rivalry
The Dagger: Kansas and Missouri shouldn't let rivalry end out of spite
There are certainly valid reasons why the Border War is in jeopardy after more than a century's worth of heated matchups.
Kansas supporters blame Missouri because the Tigers are the ones leaving the Big 12 for the money and stability of the SEC in the fall. Missouri backers say it's Kansas' fault since the jilted Jayhawks have stubbornly refused to accept the Tigers' offer to continue the rivalry as non-league foes.
But while Missouri may thrive in the SEC without the Jayhawks and Kansas may continue to be a perennial national power without the Tigers, both programs are better off when they're playing each other. How many other rivalries in the country could generate as many history-making moments in one game as Saturday's matchup did?
- ESPN.com: Rapid Reaction: Kansas 87, Mizzou 86 (OT)
CBS Sports: Afternoon Delight: Game of the Year: KU-Mizzou?
CBS Sports: Night Court: KU-Mizzou was classic, right?
- KBIA Sports Extra: Mizzou loses to Kansas 87-86 in final rivalry, key Big 12 game
- Fox Sports MW: Tigers show two sides in loss to Kansas
- Hank's Sports Blog: Beware the Phog: Kansas erases 19-point deficit to stun Missouri in overtime