As Missouri fans exited the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., dejected and stunned following their team's 86-84 Friday loss to 15-seed Norfolk State, they likely caught plenty of verbal barbs from Kansas fans entering the building for the site's night session of games.
But it's likely that nothing was as rewarding for the Jayhawk faithful than getting a chance to actually thank the Norfolk State players, who sent Kansas' SEC-bound rivals packing from the NCAA tournament prematurely, slamming the door shut on the program's dreams of its first Final Four berth.
Kansas clearly benefited some from Missouri's season-ending loss, as it appeared to sharpen the team's focus. The Jayhawks then slammed upset-minded Detroit to cap off the night, 65-50, advancing to take on 10-seed Purdue on Sunday evening with a Sweet 16 trip on the line.
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During their romp of the Titans, the Norfolk State players emerged from their locker room to take in some of the action, and were welcomed with a standing ovation from the thousands of Kansas fans who made the quick trip.
It truly is unfortunate that the rivalry — for the time being, at least — is coming to an end, especially after it hit a new peak with two epic regular-season battles between two teams ranked in the Top 10 for the better part of the season.
Even though they didn't get to meet for a third time — as many hoped they would — in the Big 12 tournament title game, Kansas fans clearly enjoyed Friday's upset as a parting shot substitute.
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- Norfolk State