LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—The Kansas-Missouri rivalry has a history of intense, closely contested games.
This wasn’t one of those games. It was a rout from start to finish.
No. 22 Kansas bolted to a 16-2 lead in the first half and Missouri missed 17 straight shots in the second half.
When the final buzzer mercifully sounded Saturday, the surging Jayhawks (19-6, 10-2 Big 12) had won their ninth in a row with a 79-46 shellacking of their troubled archrivals.
“We got after them pretty good,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, trying to be tactful. “We did a good job of controlling the game from the get-go. At 16-2, I thought we were in pretty good shape.”
In their second game since the controversial resignation of coach Quin Snyder, the Tigers (11-12, 4-8) were horrible.
They did not shoot a free throw in the first half. They missed 17 straight shots after hitting their first in the second half. They had 15 turnovers and only six rebounds in the first half while falling behind 42-23. They wound up with five assists to Kansas’ 22 and got outrebounded 41-20.
“We missed 17 (shots) in a row?” said an incredulous Thomas Gardner, who had 40 against Kansas last month. “We really did?”
Freshman Mario Chalmers helped trigger Kansas’ opening run and the Jayhawks were on their way to their most lopsided margin of victory in the ancient rivalry since 1986, when Kansas won 100-66. It’s Missouri’s lowest point total against Kansas since 1982.
The Tigers have gone 1-7 since their overtime win against Kansas in Columbia. But the entire program has been reeling from the abrupt resignation of Snyder. Some Missouri followers have urged an independent investigation into what happened.
“We are on scholarship to play basketball,” Missouri guard Kevin Young said. “We’re not on scholarship to go to journalism school and write papers. We’re here to play basketball. It’s like a job. You have a choice. You can either quit or keep playing and I hope everybody keeps playing.”
Said interim coach Melvin Watkins, “I expect the guys to have energy no matter who the coach is. We just didn’t have the energy today.”
When Marshall Brown hit a 3-pointer against the Kansas reserves with 4:26 left, it was Missouri’s first basket since Jimmy McKinney’s 3-pointer 22 seconds into the second half.
“They had some good looks, but they just weren’t falling for them,” said Chalmers, who scored 14 points. “Even good teams have bad shooting nights.”
With about 5 minutes to go, the crowd began chanting, “Just like Baylor, just like Baylor,” likening blowout to the 90-64 loss at Baylor in Snyder’s last game. Or maybe they were comparing the hapless Tigers to the last-place Bears.
Gardner finished with 15 points, almost five below his conference-leading average. McKinney also had 15. The next-highest scorer for the Tigers was Brown with four. The Tigers shot only 31.9 percent against Kansas’ nation-leading field goal defense.
Brandon Rush had 13 points for Kansas and Russell Robinson 10.
“It’s been a tough week,” said McKinney. “It’s been a tough year. You have those times in life.”