|Kansas victory could be breakthrough for Mo.|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 10 February 2009 12:20|
Nearly three years to the day since Quin Snyder resigned and the program reached its low mark, the Tigers' wiped away all the institutional cobwebs with an improbable come-from-behind 62-60 victory over bitter border rival Kansas on Monday night.
Kansas vs. Missouri is always a sellout. This time the school got so much more. The Tigers (21-5, 8-2 Big 12) shook off an atrocious first half in time to end a five-game losing streak in the series, and coach Mike Anderson finally beat the Jayhawks after an 0-5 career start. Barring total collapse, the school's five-year NCAA tournament drought also is about to end.
Anderson sensed the anticipation before the latest renewal, especially after the Tigers' road win at Texas knocked the Longhorns out of the Top 25 only five days earlier.
ave been lining up all day to get in here, and it was a team effort - players, coaching staff and our fans.''
When the arena was half-filled earlier this season, Anderson knew the fan base was just waiting for a sign.
``It's one of the reasons I came here,'' he said. ``It's a tough place to play and the fans have passion. We've got to give them a reason to come and a reason to stay when they come, and I think they went home happy tonight.''
The fans' release has been building over the last 16 home games - the 15 games before the Kansas nailbiter were decided by an average of 28.5 points.
Missouri's relentless pressing attack has been a success pretty much everywhere in Anderson's third season, and with a team proven to be long on depth. It's a style designed to wear down opponents and to mount quick rallies, and one that allows the Tigers to overcome deficiencies such as a soft inside game.
Kansas (19-5, 8-1) led 30-16 at halftime and was up by 11 at 54-43 with 8:19 to play, but had only one more basket the rest of the way. The Jayhawks' whopping 48-28 rebounding advantage was negated by a season-high 27 turnovers, and Missouri was able to prevail despite a season-worst 35.6 percent shooting and ugly 2-for-14 numbers from 3-point range.
``We did a great job on the glass,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ``But we did a pitiful, pitiful job handling any type of pressure.''
Cole Aldrich had 15 rebounds and five blocked shots for Kansas, but Self said the 6-foot-11 center didn't get enough scoring chances while battling a collapsing zone. Aldrich was 3-for-8 and had eight points.
``I thought the zone did the best job on Cole,'' Self said. ``But you know who played good defense? We played the best defense on Cole.''
Missouri cracked the Top 25 for the first time in almost five seasons around Christmas-time, then quickly exited after a blowout loss to Illinois in St. Louis. This time, they're looking forward to a much longer stay in the poll with a chance to make it 17 in a row at home on Saturday against Nebraska.
``Experience, leadership, mature freshmen,'' said DeMarre Carroll, who led Missouri with 22 points and seven rebounds. ``Then you've got to give credit to our coach, he harps on us every day about defense.
``As a team, I think we came together in the second half.''
As for Kansas, Self doesn't expect the setback to linger with his young players.
``Hopefully if we're in this position again, we'll close it out,'' the coach said. ``If we can't handle losing a game, we're obviously not a very tough team or tough-minded at all.''