Saturday, February 4, 2012
At 8pm February 4th, 2012, at Mizzou's home stadium in Columbia, Missouri, the 4th ranked MU basketball team will face the 8th ranked KU basketball team. With less than one hour away from the Border War basketball game between KU and MU, KU players are getting ready to play one of the most important games of the season. As the NCAA Big 12 basketball teams rally for position, tonight's game could (and will) determine which team will sit on top in first place of the Big 12. There is also a possibility of a three-way tie for first, depending on the results of the 2012 Border War between MU and KU.
Thomas Robinson is a standout player for KU basketball and is most noted for his play on the court but also for the loss of his grandparents and mother within one month's time. Robinson's mother died of a heart attack at the age of 37 after losing both of her parents only weeks before. The KU Jayhawks honored Robinson with a moment of silence in a game on January 22nd, 2011. Of Robinson's character, head coach Bill Self said "Thomas lost his grandmother at the very end of December, he lost his grandfather on Sunday and lost his mother on Friday night. For him to even be out there [on the court] is remarkable."
This Border War between MU and KU is going to be a good one because both teams are rated in the top ten and if the right things happen the result of this game will cause a three way tie in the league for first place. Mizzou basketball fans have been camped out all night in front of Mizzou Arena, waiting for the ESPN analysts and other media hype institutions. The stadium opened up minutes ago and there is no doubt that this will be a sold out event. Missouri enters the match up with the better squad, but both teams have been performing poorly as of late, losing to or barely defeating inept teams. MU will be washing it's hands of the Big 12 in July and heading to the bigger and better stage of the SEC, leaving KU behind to continue to battle in the trenches with the mutants. Regardless of the outcome of tonight's Border War between KU and MU, Mizzou will be victorious overall in the Border War history, thus closing that chapter for good.
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Sunday, March 13, 2011
For the fourth time in the last six years, Kansas and Texas met in the final of the Big 12 Tournament. Once again, Kansas defeated the Longhorns, heading into the NCAA tournament as a one seed with both the Big 12 regular season and Big 12 Tournament titles.
After losing to Texas in the regular season and seeing its 69 home winning streak snapped, the Jayhawks were out for blood in this one. All week, KU players and coaches mentioned that the death of Thomas Robinson's mother was a distraction before the team's last meeting, and this time the outcome would be different. Kansas backed up its talk with one of its best games of the season, torching Texas' defense (one of the nation's best) with a balanced attack.
If KU continues to play at this level, it will coast into the Final 4. However, the Jayhawks have a tendency to lay up at times, and the second round loss to Northern Iowa still lingers in the minds of the Jayhawk faithful. KU should have something to prove this year, which could be trouble for NCAA field.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Turns out, Kansas won't be sharing anything this season, as it won the Big 12 title outright with a tough 70-66 win over Mizzou in Columbia. The game showcased the Jayhawks' toughness, as they survived a late Tiger push, some of the worst calls you will ever see and even the ever classy Mizzou fans throwing things on the court. Kansas has now won at least a share of seven consecutive conference titles, and has won the last three outright.
Despite being terrible on the road, Missouri had been undefeated at home leading up to Saturday's contest. Once again, the Tigers had absolutely no answer for the KU big men, especially Marcus Morris, who had a monster game with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Thomas Robinson helped KU build a lead it wouldn't lose in the second half with a lot of tough put-backs, and ended up with 15 points and 13 boards. If KU's big men continue to play at a high level, KU is almost unbeatable - no other team in the country has the firepower to match what the Jayhawks do inside.
For Missouri, it was the same old story. Despite a perfect home record, the Tigers again couldn't avoid a season sweep at the hands of their rival. Is it time for Mizzou fans to panic? Possibly - Mizzou ended its regular season with three straight losses and is limping into the post season. Its tournament seed will be average at best, which means the Tigers will likely have to knock off a very good team in round two to crash the Sweet 16. It looks like Mike Anderson may have taken this program as far as he can. MU is always competitive and good enough to finish in the top half of the Big 12 and make the NCAA tournament, but thats about it. Missouri rarely beats Kansas - the Jayhawks have won the last five meetings and 11 of the last 14 - and has still never been to the Final 4. Anderson is rumored to be interested in the Arkansas job, and it would be interesting to get a Tigers' perspective on this.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
In a Sunflower Showdown that was supposed to be a cakewalk for KU, KState played like its season was on the line while the Jayhawks looked like it simply expected to walk all over KState like it did in Allen Fieldhouse. KState was able to salvage its disappointing season and make a strong case for a NCAA tournament berth with a strong win over number one ranked KU.
The final result wasn't pretty: KState beat KU 84-68 in a game that was never in doubt. KU easily played its worst game of the season, while KState turned in a performance that was somewhat shocking given how poorly it had played in Big 12 play. KState got an insane performance from senior Jacob Pullen, who torched the Jayhawks for 38 points.
Before KU fans all jump in the Kansas river, just remember: KU is not healthy and easily played its worst ball of the year. KU is missing Thomas Robinson due to injury, and star freshman Josh Selby barely played due to a stress fracture in his foot. The loss puts KU at 10-2 in the conference, and it will likely see its ridiculous streak of consecutive Big 12 championships end at six. However, this could be a very dangerous team in March, especially when healthy. KU had beaten KState 42 in its last 44 meetings, and it is hard not to avoid a road bump every once in a while. KU will recover, while KState fans can't help but wonder how its team's season would have gone had the Wildcats played every game like Monday night's contest.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Kansas made a strong win for the number one ranking in the nation with a season sweep of Iowa State. KU beat Iowa State 89-66 in Lawrence, moving to 9-1 in the Big 12 and 24-1 overall. After starting the season ranked seventh, achieving the number one ranking would be another sign that Bill Self has done one of his best coaching jobs with this year's team.
KU has been able to maintain its momentum despite several key injuries, including freshman sensation Josh Selby and key reserve Thomas Robinson. Tyrel Reed and Jeff Withey are also battling nagging injuries but shouldn't miss any time. The key to the Jayhawks' season will be how healthy can Kansas get by March - a full strength KU squad could easily contend for a national title.
KU was in this same position last season, however something feels different about this year's team. Last year, Kansas struggled throughout the year to put away lesser opponents and failed to execute on basketball's different stage. Since the loss to Texas, KU has ran through the league and managed to not miss a beat despite injury problems. When healthy, this team is arguably the best team in the country, but any more injuries could derail KU's campaign for a second national title in the past four seasons.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
On the day the state of Kansas turned 150, it seemed fitting that KU and KState would battle in Lawrence with ESPN's College Game Day in town. Before the season started, this looked like a potential top 10 or even top 5 matchup. However, KState has not lived up to its lofty preseason ranking, which took a lot of hype out of the Sunflower Showdown.
KState had no answer for the Jayhawks, getting absolutely manhandled by KU, 90-66. KU jumped out to a 15-2 lead and never looked back, relying on its superior post play to turn the game into a layup line. KState couldn't buy a basket, and never got within striking distance. Just two days after burying his mother, Thomas Robinson had a monster game, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds in an inspired effort to help lead the Jayhawks.
KU was one week off losing its ridiculous 69 home court winning streak at the hands of Texas, and looked inspired, focused and hungry. The Jayhawks were distracted against the Longhorns (the team found out about Lisa Robinson's passing the night before the game), and fell apart against a dangerous Texas squad. The win on saturday was a reminder that the Big 12 title still runs through Lawrence, and that KU will once again be a factor in league play and beyond.
For KState, the loss seemed fitting given how the season has gone. The Wildcats were picked to win the Big 12 and found themselves at third in the preseason top 25 poll. KState has now dropped five Big 12 games and seems headed for the NIT at best. Leadership problems, a stagnant offense and a tough Big 12 have lead to KState's nosedive. Frank Martin has failed to build a program like Bill Self or Mike Anderson at Missouri, and with no high-impact recruits and next year's tougher Big 12 schedule, the future looks cloudy at the moment in Manhattan.
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