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Live Game Thread: Border Battle No. 272, Mizzou travels to enemy territory at No. 2 Kansas

Missouri is already 2-0 on the road this season. To go 3-0, it will have to go to the toughest place to earn a win at in college basketball. That also happens to be the team it dislikes the most

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

Missouri 64 | Kansas 73

Final


1st Half Notes

  • Fast-paced beginning to this game. Nick Honor with the Tigers’ first clean look of the night, has a 3-pointer rim out.
  • Aidan Shaw starting out as your primary defender on Hunter Dickinson.
  • Honor hits on a deep one, from at least 3-4 feet behind the arc at the end of the shot clock.
  • Mabor Majak looks like he’ll be the first guy off the bench (no warm-up on, next to Gates). He’ll likely play more minutes to defend Dickinson.
  • Shaw’s activity has been great on both ends of the floor, grabbing rebounds and altering shots. Make it the second-straight year that he’s had an emphatic dunk in this game too.
  • This team is not fazed by this environment, that much is clear thus far.
  • 15:18: Never mind to that Majak take. Vanover is in instead.
  • Sean East II with a confident 3-pointer in transition. Tigers are 2-for-3 from behind the arc to start.
  • East goes right at freshman Johnny Furphy as soon he enters the game. That’s a matchup that the Tigers could take advantage of.
  • 12:43: A cold 3-pointer from Tamar Bates with a hand in his face forces Bill Self to call a timeout. Those in black and gold are the only ones cheering right now.
  • Anthony Robinson II with some great defense on Dahuan Harris right now. In the biggest environment of his life, the freshman doesn’t look fazed.
  • Gates opting to put Vanover on KJ Adams Jr. That allows the 7-foot-5 center to hang out in the paint due to Adams’ lack of a threatening outside shot, and thus he can help out on Dickinson.
  • Jayhawks now getting some looks at the rim, McCullar and Harris are becoming more aggressive and drawing contact.
  • Carter with an open-floor dunk after a sporadic sequence. KU responds with one of its own. Both teams have appeared to settle into this one.
  • East II silences the crowd with a three in the face of a Kansas defender. Tigers are answering every counter-punch with one of their own.
  • 7:59: Offense right now is simple: put East II in as many ball-screen scenarios as possible and let him create.
  • An absolutely disgusting move from East II on Timberlake as he takes the Towson transfer to class for a lesson.
  • Honor is really feeling it, letting shots fly from deep in this game. He’s one of many that’s played with an overwhelming amount of confidence in this game.
  • The Sean East II floater package is back and better than ever.
  • Shaw absolutely deletes a shot that Timberlake threw up in transition.
  • 4:54: Gates takes a timeout after KU cuts the Mizzou lead to just two. KJ Adams is settling into a rhythm in that free throw line area that the Tigers are giving him.
  • Robinson fouls Elmarko Jackson on a 3-point try that he converts. Jayhawks take the lead with that bucket and can add to it coming out of the break.
  • Middle eight is something Gates harps on a lot. Very important final four minutes for Mizzou to attempt to reclaim momentum.
  • Robinson passed up an open 3-pointer. Tigers are beginning to show the first signs of hesitancy.
  • Honor attempts a pull-up 3-pointer in a 2-on-1 in transition. It’s usually a shot that he can knock down, so you can’t fault him for it, but the result will have people second-guessing.
  • Kansas has taken firm control of this game in every facet. Tigers have failed to get the quality looks they were getting in the opening minutes, while Adams and Harris have managed to figure out how to attack Mizzou’s defense.
  • Tamar Bates fouls Kevin McCullar Jr. on a last-second 3-point attempt. A critical mistake that will allow the Jayhawks to take a 12-point lead into halftime. KU closed on an 11-0 run.

2nd Half Notes

  • East II send KJ Adams flying into the rafters on a nice shot fake. Tigers open the half on a quick 4-0 run.
  • Most importantly, this team finally got to the free throw line.
  • Nick Honor is just not playing within his game today. He’s forcing some things and hasn’t been able to find many quality looks at the rim.
  • Miscommunication from East and Shaw on a pick-and-roll, the veteran guard wanted the forward to dip further to the rim.
  • Tamar Bates gives Hunter Dickinson a shove after the KU center blocked a shot after a foul was called.
  • 13:30: Potentially game-altering stretch for Missouri. Anthony Robinson appeared to have an open look on a fast break, but KJ Adams erased any thought of that. Dickinson finishes off a rebound with an and-one on the other end to make it a 14-point game.
  • Tigers beginning to draw some fouls in this second half, something they’ve struggled to do all season. Furphy and Jackson have three apiece for KU.
  • Noah Carter fights through a body to earn an and-one. This would be a great time for him to get more aggressive in this game.
  • Vanover is flashing more in this second half. Credit to East II for continuing to be a creator for both himself and his teammates. That’s a 7-0 personal run from the big man.
  • Nick Honor may purely just be bothered by KU’s perimeter length.
  • Carter down on the floor after a defensive rebound. The staff is stretching out his leg on the floor.
  • 7:17: Honor is back into the game with a 3-pointer. Mizzou cuts the lead to eight.
  • Kansas responds with some quick buckets, but Honor continues to be aggressive and now heads to the line.
  • Hunter Dickinson is absolutely automatic with that mid-range floater.
  • 3:33: Tigers are down 10 with the ball in possession after a travel by KU. Mizzou hasn’t faded away, but it also hasn’t been able to make a breakthrough.
  • Aidan Shaw with a tough left-handed finish around the rim to cut the lead to eight yet again.
  • It’ll be a game of free throw shooting from here on out. Mizzou would like to see Adams Jr. at the line as much as possible.
  • Honor takes McCullar to the rim and finishes off a bucket. The refs have to pause to speak with Gates, who was approached by East II as well. Unsure of what exactly transpired.

Pregame Updates

  • Starters are the same as it has been for the past two games: Honor, East II, Bates, Shaw, Carter.

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many dunks will Connor Vanover have?
  3. Who will lead the team in assists?
  4. How many 3-pointers will Mizzou hit?
  5. Who will be the surprise star of the day?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.


Today’s Preview

After a disappointing loss to Jackson State, Mizzou has rebounded with four straight victories, the most recent being an impressive 10-point win over Wichita State, Mizzou heads to enemy territory to face No. 2 Kansas in one of the best rivalries in collegiate athletics. In basketball, kU leads the all-time series 175-95 since 1950. But the Tigers’ 52 victories over one of the winningest college basketball programs is the most by any team not named Kansas State. This is the beginning of three straight games away from Mizzou Arena for Dennis Gates’ squad. Following a trip to Lawrence, the Tigers will play Seton Hall in Kansas City and Illinois in St. Louis.

Kansas began as the No. 1 ranked team and defeated Kentucky in the Champions Classic. After a loss to a really good Marquette team, the Jayhawks took down both Tennessee and the defending champs UConn. Sandwiched in between those games was an eight-point victory over Eastern Illinois. Most recently, kU defeated Kansas City (A familiar foe) on Tuesday.


Game Info

Time: 4:15 PM CT

Date: Dec. 9, 2023

Location: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Ks.

TV: ESPN


NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Starters

Missouri

PG: Sean East II (Grad, 16.8 PPG)

SG: Nick Honor (Grad, 11.8 PPG)

SF: Tamar Bates (Jr, 7.4 PPG)

PF: Noah Carter (Grad, 12.6 PPG)

C: Aidan Shaw (So, 3.1 PPG)

Notable Sixth Man: Anthony Robinson II (Fr, 5.7 PPG)

Kansas

PG: Dajuan Harris Jr. (Sr, 5.6 PPG)

SG: Elmarko Jackson (Fr, 5.8 PPG)

SF: Kevin McCullar (Gr, 18.5 PPG)

PF: KJ Adams (Jr, 11.8 PPG)

C: Hunter Dickinson (Sr, 20.9 PPG)

Notable Sixth Man: Johnny Furphy (Fr, 5.9 PPG)

*These are projected starters. Also, in today’s college basketball, positions rarely mean much. Those are included purely for perspective on what matchups on the court may look like.


Get To Know...Kansas

NCAA Basketball: UMKC at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Self, almost Mizzou’s head coach at one point, has put together a hall of fame career in Lawrence with a record of 566-133 (266-68 in Big), 16 Big 12 regular season title, 8 Big 12 Conference titles, 4 final fours, and unfortunately a pair of National Titles to go along with all of it. And this year, like many other years, he has another fantastic squad once again.

NCAA Basketball: UMKC at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest acquisition the Jawhawks made to its roster this offseason this offseason was adding former Michigan Wolverine, Hunter Dickinson. The 7-foot-1 center has been on a tear through the first eight games of the 2023-24 season. Along with averaging 12.3 rebounds per game, Dickinson put up scoring totals 27 and 25 against Kentucky and UConn as he averages a team high 20.9 points per game. A complete modern day big man, he can extend his game behind the arc as he knocked down a trio of 3-pointers behind the arc against the Huskies.

“Hunter Dickinson is a potential Naismith Player of the year,” Gates said. “His success is well documented.”

From the Jayhawks’ National Title squad in 2022, is Columbia native and Rock Bridge alumni Dajuan Harris. He has ascended to becoming one of the best point guards in all of college basketball. After scoring 23 points in the Jayhawks victory over the Wildcats, he hasn’t shot the ball particularly well, but nevertheless is still going to be a challenge for Mizzou’s guards on both ends of the floor.

On defending Dajuan Harris Jr.: “He’s a pretty good player, I just want to stop him from getting into the paint and limiting his vision to make those passes,” — Nick Honor on Dec. 7.

Kevin McCullar transferred from Texas Tech two seasons ago and torched the Tigers for 21 points last year in Columbia, while KJ Adams tallied 19 of his own. Both present great size at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7, and are each averaging double-digit scoring totals while McCullar is dishing out 5.1 assists to go along with 6.9 rebounds.

Freshman Jonny Furphy has embraced his role off the bench. The 4-star recruit from Melbourne, Austrailia tallied 10 points in the Jayhawks most recent victory. Elmark Jackson is another freshman that has helped contribute for kU as he’s frequently appeared in the starting lineup. And let’s not forget about Parker Braun. If my notes are correct, he’ll be the first player ever in this series to play for both MU and KU, but the former Tiger has no bad blood for his former school.

One thing that Kansas does well is efficiently putting the ball in the hoop. The Jayhawks rank first in the nation in field goal percentage (53.6%), partly because of how dominant Dickinson is down low. The best shooting team the Tigers have faced is Minnesota, which ranks 54th in the nation at 47.9%.

3 Keys To The Game

The Kansas natives need to step up...for the third game in a row.

How about this new starting lineup that Gates has rolled out with Aidan Shaw and Tamar Bates? Gates mentioned on Thursday that he is loving what Bates is giving the Tigers. The Kansas City, Kansas native brings a spark to both ends of floor.

As for Shaw, it seems that he is continuing an upward trajectory in his second season as a Tiger. But, Gates still expects more from the sophomore from Overland Park.

“I challenge Aidan Shaw,” Gates said. “Aidan Shaw has to give us a 10-plus rebound game. He has to average one rebound every three minutes and that’s very important I think he’s trending in that direction in the infant stages of his young career, but he’s so talented, man.”

Shaw is the team’s leading block leader as Mizzou ranks seventh in the nation with 6.7 blocks per game. Both Bates and Shaw are returning to their home state, and if once again inserted into the starting lineup are going to have to help make sure Mizzou starts off hot in the beginning of both halfs.

“He, Tamar, Caleb Grill… to be able to go back and play in the state of Kansas I think is important, but it also says we got the right kids in our program,” Gates said.

Fire away from behind the arc

Missouri is a team that can go on runs throughout period of the game. The Tigers’ fire and make more 3-pointer per game than Kansas does. MU can’t afford Carter, Grill, East or Honor to go cold or missing against a team like this or Mizzou will simply leave the Phog with its third loss of the season. The Jayhawks have allowed 8.3 3-pointers per game, which ranks 295th in the nation.

Play with confidence in a hostile environment

It’s harder said than done, but this team can’t go into Lawrence and play scared and rattled. The last two matchups have been in a way a complete embarrassment. This year though, Gates alluded to the previous opponents that the Tigers have already played to kind of give and appetite of what they will experience.

“Our guys do a lot studying of basketball,” Gates said. “They know the environment, they know what it intels, but again our schedule, you guys always ask why this type of schedule, being at a Minnesota, being at a Pitt, they give you road games to kind of build up into the moment.”

Kansas has only lost three times at home this decade, but looking at this rivalry, it doesn’t matter how far apart the teams are in terms of rankings, many Mizzou teams have found a way to play confident basketball against kU.

“Teams have gone in there and conquered Phog Allen,” Gates said. “And ultimately, our job is to be the next opponent to try to do that and we’ll see. I just hope we give ourselves a chance in that last possession to walk away with a victory.”

If the team needs any other advice, take it from Doug Smith.


Game Prediction

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

KenPom Prediction: Kansas 78, Missouri 64

My Prediction: Kansas 82, Missouri 75

Is this going to be another 25-plus blowout game? Probably not. Will Missouri go into Lawrence and capture its first victory at the Phog since Jan. 24, 1999? It’s hard to see it happening, but it would definitely be something if that occurs on Saturday. Missouri played it’s most complete game of the season against Wichita State never relinquishing the lead in a 10-point victory and is 2-0 on the road against a pair of Power Six foes (Minnesota and Pittsburgh). But, let’s be honest, teams that do go into Allen Fieldhouse rarely come out victorious and kU is the No. 2 team in the nation. That’s just a simple fact.

Mizzou making this competitive for a full 40 minutes would give a lot of confidence going forward. If this game was in Columbia, it would be convincing but kU on its home court likely comes away with victory in this one.