Wednesday, March 14, 2007

1993-94 Redux: Missouri 79, Kansas 67

(Hopefully Mike Anderson and Bill Self can build the same hilarious rapport that Norm and Roy had, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.)

January 31, 1994

of the Tribune's staff

If only figuratively, Norm Stewart would like to see a pendulum swingingtonight in the Hearnes Center.

For the Missouri Tigers, the last three years of the Kansas series have been the pits. Kansas has swept the season series each year, making the Jayhawks the first visitor to win three in a row at the Hearnes Center.

That reversed a trend; Missouri went 4-0 against Kansas in coach Roy Williams' first two years.

“He and I met outside the Final Four in Denver,” in 1990, Stewart said. “He said, `You know, we haven't beaten you a game yet.' I said, `Roy, I've been around this a little while. Unfortunately, these things do even out.'

“I wish to hell I hadn't said that. They've more than evened out. We hope that they'll even out again, that they'll head back the other way.”

The rivalry began with Missouri victories on consecutive days, March 11-12, 1907. Since then, the Jayhawks have had the better of it and lead the series 144-82.

“I can remember when we first came in the league, we used to put such emphasis on that game that I thought maybe it hurt us,” said Stewart, now in his 27th season as Missouri's coach. “They were winning at that time also.

“Once we won and started winning, well, then we just kept trying to isolate games. And you keep trying to do that.”

Now the isolation ward is staffed with seniors who have never beaten Kansas. Chris Heller, a fifth-year senior, was part of the last Missouri team to beat Kansas.

“That was my freshman year so I really didn't have much to do with that,” Heller said. He did not get in either of Missouri's victories in 1990, his first year.

“Nobody really knows what it is like,” Heller said. “Hopefully we can change that Monday night.”

The current crop of seniors has ended longstanding losing streaks against Illinois and at Oklahoma. Those streaks were inherited.

“We had the same thing with Illinois three years ago,” Stewart said. “We got that turned around.

“They're conscious. They go out and they give it a little extra, and sometimes it's good enough and sometimes it's not. I think probably they'll be thinking about that, that they haven't won a game against Kansas.”

From the sound of it, the Tigers are trying to make tonight's game just another part of the routine that has them atop the Big Eight at 5-0.

“We're not going in to beat Kansas,” Jevon Crudup said. “We're going in to win a ballgame.

“We know we haven't beaten them. The fact that remains is that's the past, and this is the present. You can't worry about what's happened the last three years. You have to worry about what's going to happen Monday.

“KU is a good ballclub. I think that we've proven we're a good ballclub. Somebody's got to win Monday. So that's what it boils down to.”

On the other side is Kansas' senior core -- starters Steve Woodberry, Richard Scott and Patrick Richey -- that has never lost to Missouri. Woodberry has made big shots against the Tigers annually since his freshman year. He's now KU's leading scorer.

“His role is a little different because we're asking him to score more,” Williams said. “It really wasn't a huge difference for him.”

ESPN chose the game for a “Big Monday” telecast. The rest of the Big Eight will be paying close at attention. Kansas, seeking its fourth consecutive conference championship, can tie the Tigers for first with a victory tonight.

“They've definitely put themselves in the driver's seat,” Williams said.

During and after Missouri's last home game, against Iowa State, Stewart leaned on the horn, asking for more noise from the Hearnes Center crowd. He doesn't think he'll need to repeat himself tonight. “We never had much problem with this ballgame as far as enthusiasm is concerned,” Stewart said.
February 1, 1994

of the Tribune's staff

Having brought in fresh troops, the Missouri Tigers showed they're once again capable of holding their ground against Kansas.

The No. 20 Tigers turned back the third-ranked Jayhawks 79-67 last night at the Hearnes Center. It was Missouri's first victory in the series since 1990, and it gave the Tigers (15-2, 6-0 Big Eight) a two-game lead in the league.

"The past three years, Kansas has always found a way to hit a key basket," senior guard Melvin Booker said. "They've put the dagger in our heart the past three years. We didn't let that happen to us tonight. We just buckled down and got more intense and picked up the defense."

The Jayhawks, who've reigned in the Big Eight the last three years, are used to striking deep. The Tigers have built up their defenses; four newcomers aided the seniors who were on a mission to record their first win over Kansas.

"We knew going in that we were 0 for six as seniors, haven't won since we've been here against them," said Booker, who led Missouri with 16 points. "We really gave it our all tonight. We did a good job."

The Tigers finished with five players in double figures, including a season-high 13 by midseason transfer Paul O'Liney, who played 28 minutes off the bench.

Ten Tigers played; all entered the game in the first half.

"In the past, they're running 10, 11, 12 people at you, and you're sitting there, you've got maybe five, six, seven," Missouri coach Norm Stewart said of KU. "You know going into it that you can make some changes, which we did. Some of them were brief, but I think some of the seniors, they wanted to stay. Fatigue was not going to be a part of that ballgame the last eight or nine minutes."

Not when the seniors were so tired of losing to Kansas.

"We all know what thoughts are going through everybody's mind, `Beat Kansas,' not just win the game," Lamont Frazier said.

The Jayhawks, who trailed 34-29 at halftime, made their move early in the second half.

Steve Woodberry, the leading dagger-wielder in the Big Eight, converted a three-point play with 17:43 to give Kansas (19-3, 4-2 Big Eight) a 38-36 lead. Greg Ostertag, KU's 7-foot-2 center, gave the Jayhawks their last lead, 42-40, with 15:42 left.

Booker tied it with a basket, then he gave Missouri a 44-42 lead with 14:49 left after Marlo Finner wrested a loose ball from Kansas guard Jacque Vaughn and passed to Booker from a prone position.

"I thought his play was very good as far as floor play, moving the ball, handling the basketball," Stewart said of Booker. "And then when we needed a score a couple of times, he got it for us."

O'Liney opened things up with a three-pointer with 11:30 left, giving Missouri a 53-46 lead. The Jayhawks got no closer than six after that. Missouri twice stretched the lead to 14 in the final minutes.

"What sticks out in my mind is their defense was better than our defense," said Kansas coach Roy Williams, who's now 6-5 against Missouri. "They challenged every shot, every pass, and we didn't get many second-shot opportunities."

Woodberry led all scorers with 19 points but never shook free of Missouri's tag-team defense. Missouri's approach was, "Wear him down, rotate individuals on him," Frazier said.

While putting up a gauntlet for Woodberry, the Tigers sagged off point guards Vaughn and Calvin Rayford. Left open outside, the pair was two for nine from the field. A three-pointer by Vaughn was the only outside shot either hit.