No. 3 Kansas 73, Missouri 61
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Two picture-perfect one-handed lobs by Aaron Miles set up easy baskets by Christian Moody and J.R. Giddens, and all of a sudden there seemed little doubt that No. 3 Kansas would rally to beat Missouri.
Giddens’ bucket gave Kansas a nine-point lead—after trailing by eight at halftime, got the crowd screaming and sent the Jayhawks rolling to a 73-61 victory over their archrival Monday night.
“I was sitting on the bench but I was yelling my lungs out,” said Wayne Simien, who had 22 points and eight rebounds. “That was huge.”
Kansas (17-1, 7-0 Big 12) shot just 36 percent in the first half and fell behind 36-28 but hit 70 percent in the first 15 minutes, 30 seconds of the second half while handing the reeling Tigers (10-11, 2-6) their seventh loss in eight games.
Embattled Missouri coach Quin Snyder, who got the job six years ago over Bill Self when the Kansas coach was at Tulsa, fell to 3-10 against the Jayhawks and 0-7 against Self.
But Snyder refused to discuss the growing criticism he is drawing from Missouri fans who are impatient with a program that’s never finished higher than fifth in the Big 12 since he arrived.
“For me to be concerned about myself is not the answer,” he said. “Ultimately, I am accountable. But I have to focus on the team.”
Miles, the Big 12’s career assists leader, had 14 points and 10 assists— all but one in a take-charge effort in the second half. His two lobs keyed a 7-1 run that seemed to deflate Missouri, which has not won in Lawrence since 1999.
“That was big for us,” Miles said. “That was a big run for us because it got the crowd back involved. And it juiced us up.”
Giddens had 15 points and Keith Langford had 11 for Kansas. Jason Conley had a season-high 20 points for Missouri and Linas Kleiza, before fouling out and then adding a technical foul for arguing, had 11.
Kansas used a zone defense to help stop Missouri’s momentum and get their transition game going. The Jayhawks scored only four points in the last 6:48 before intermission while Missouri went on a 20-4 spree.
“It is no surprise that we struggle against zones,” Snyder said. “We have to be a better thinking team against the zone. When we see a zone, we freeze a little bit.”
Kleiza, Missouri’s leading scorer and rebounder who was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game, muscled inside for a bucket to launch a spree that included seven points by Conley and Thomas Gardner’s three-point play that gave the Tigers the lead at 26-25.
Conley’s steal and driving bucket put Missouri ahead 41-30 the first few minutes of the second half, but Miles connected on two 3-pointers in Kansas’ 18-6 run where every point was scored by starting seniors Miles, Simien and Langford.
“We let down on the defensive end,” Conley said. “As soon as the ball would go off the rim, they (Kansas) would get the rebound and push it up the court.”
With one regular-season game against the Tigers to go, the Kansas seniors are 8-1 against their most hated rivals.
“We played so bad in the first half, it was miserable,” Self said. “We made some serious mistakes and had about 10 turnovers. At halftime, it was like we just flipped a switch. We really played well the second half for the entire 20 minutes. Even thought it was only a 12-point win, it was still against Missouri. We shouldn’t have to apologize for beating Missouri by 12.”