Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.
Missouri 15 (No. 3 Big 12)
Kansas 6 (No. 1 Big 12)
Line: Kansas -6½
Missouri Players to Watch: G Marcus Denmon, 6-3 Sr. (17.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 40% 3s); F Ricardo Ratliffe, 6-8 Sr. (13.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 71.7% FG); G Kim English, 6-6 Sr. (14 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 45.6% 3s). Ratliffe, who easily leads the nation in field goal percentage and is sixth in the Big 12 in rebounding, has five double-doubles this season and is coming off a 9-point, 14-rebound performance in Tuesday’s 78-68 loss to Kansas State.
Kansas Players to Watch: F Thomas Robinson, 6-10 Jr. (17.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 54.8% FG); G Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3 Sr. (16.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 43.3% 3s); C Jeff Withey, 7-0 Jr. (9.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.4 bpg). Withey went scoreless in the loss to Missouri on Feb. 4, but he is averaging 16.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 5.4 blocked shots in the five games since.
Storylines: The Big 12 title appears to be on the line as the Kansas-Missouri rivalry resumes for the last time in the Big 12. Kansas leads the Tigers by a game after winning five straight games, including three in a row. Missouri had its 7-game winning streak snapped Tuesday in its second loss to Kansas State this season. The Tigers are 0-2 against the Wildcats and 25-1 against everyone else this season.
Keys: Denmon scored 29 points and grabbed nine boards in Missouri’s 74-71 win over the Jayhawks on Feb. 4. The senior hit two 3-pointers and converted a 3-point play in the final 2:05 of the victory. Both teams shots well. Kansas made 30-of-56 shots and the Tigers were 25-of-48, including 10-of-16 from Denmon, who also made six of his nine 3-pointers. The Tigers and Jayhawks are the Big 12’s two leading scoring teams. Missouri has a league-best 79.5 points per game (ninth nationally), while the Jayhawks are second at 74.7. If the game comes down to free throws, Missouri has a significant advantage. The Tigers shoot a league-best 76.8 percent from stripe, while Kansas makes just 70 percent of its foul shots. Kansas has the best field goal defense in the conference, holding opponents to 37.8 percent. Missouri is last, allowing opponents to shoot 44 percent. Missouri is shooting 48.1 percent on the road this season, but just 31.8 percent from the 3-point line. Overall, the Tigers are second in the nation (behind only Creighton), connecting on 49.8 percent of their field goal attempts. Kansas leads the all-time series with the Tigers, 171-95, including a 41-14 edge at Phog Allen. The Jayhawks, who have beaten Missouri 11 straight times at home, have a 22-9 edge over Missouri in Big 12 games. Kansas is 13-1 at home this season, having won eight in a row with the homecourt advantage. The Jayhawks’ only road loss was on Dec. 19, 80-74 to Davidson. The Tigers are 6-2 in true road games and have won three straight away from home.
The Bottom Line: Unless Missouri shoots like it did at home against Kansas, which is unlikely on the road against a strong defensive team, Kansas will clinch at least a share of eighth-straight Big 12 title.
The Pick: Kansas 80, Missouri 70
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