Kansas has already added to its impressive streak of Big 12 championships, but needs a win in its regular-season finale to secure an outright title and a top seed in the conference tournament.
The second-ranked Jayhawks’ next opponent would love nothing more than to spoil that attempt while securing its own piece of history.
No. 22 Missouri will try to complete an unbeaten run at home this season by upsetting its archrivals Saturday.
Texas’ late swoon helped Kansas (28-2, 13-2) claim at least a share of its seventh consecutive league title with a 64-51 victory over No. 24 Texas A&M on Wednesday. The win, combined with the Longhorns’ loss to Kansas State on Monday, gave the Jayhawks a one-game lead heading into this weekend.
“We still have business to take care of Saturday because we don’t like to share championships,” said guard Brady Morningstar, one of his team’s three seniors. “But it’s very exciting to be a part of a streak like this.”
The Jayhawks can earn their third straight outright crown with their 10th win in 11 tries over Missouri (22-8, 8-7) or a Texas loss at Baylor on Saturday evening. A Kansas loss and a Longhorns win would give Texas a share of the title and a No. 1 seed in Kansas City.
The Tigers, meanwhile, could use their 1,500th win in program history to gain the last of four first-round byes in that tournament.
Missouri is currently fifth but could claim fourth with a win plus a Kansas State loss to last-place Iowa State on Saturday. A loss, though, could drop the Tigers as low as seventh.
Missouri, though, has gone 17-0 at home this season, winning by an average of 22.5 points and prevailing in 51 of 53 home contests over the last three seasons.
“I don’t know what it is, but I’m glad we have it,” said leading scorer Marcus Denmon (16.8 ppg). “The fans are great here; guys are accustomed to this arena and accustomed to the gym.”
Kansas, however, is the last opponent to win at Mizzou Arena, 77-56 last March. The Jayhawks have won four straight over their rivals by an average of 20.5 points.
The two highest-scoring teams in the Big 12 combined for 189 points in their previous matchup Feb. 7, with the Jayhawks prevailing 103-86. Kansas broke open a close game with a 10-0 run to start the second half.
“Going into that earlier game I thought we were ready to go in and pull one off, and I thought we played well for a period,” said coach Mike Anderson, who has 199 career victories. “Then I thought they took the fight to us. This is Round 2 and obviously we want to defend the home turf.”
Marcus Morris had a team-best 22 points for Kansas, which shot 60.7 percent and had five players in double figures. With 19 points, Laurence Bowers was one of five players in double figures for the Tigers, who shot 51.7 percent.
Missouri, though, was outrebounded 38-21 and gave up 14 on the offensive glass. The Tigers have been outrebounded by an average of 19.8 in their last six meetings with Kansas.
Rebounding also proved a problem in consecutive defeats this past week for Missouri, which allowed 26 more rebounds than it grabbed in losing at Kansas State and Nebraska.
Kansas leads the series 170-94 but the teams have split their six matchups at Mizzou Arena.