The second installment of the Border War was a noon tip on the final Saturday of the college basketball season. No. 2 Kansas came in a game up on Texas in the Big 12 standings. No. 24 Missouri was not only playing at home, where they are a much better basketball team, it was senior night.
And to top things off, Gus Johnson was calling the game.
This had all the makings of a classic.
Except it wasn’t.
Missouri hit a flurry of threes late in the second half to made the final score 70-66, but for much of the second half Kansas was in complete control. And it wasn’t like Missouri didn’t execute their game plan, either. There were 75 possessions in the game. On 25 of those possessions, Kansas turned the ball over. That is exactly the tempo and style of play that Mike Anderson dreams about.
The problem, however, is that Missouri struggled in every other aspect of the game. The knock on the Tigers all season is that they cannot defend in the half court, and once against that was evident this afternoon. Kansas scored 1.40 PPP on the 50 possessions they had without a turnover. The Jayhawks grabbed 45.7% of the available offensive rebounds. And, perhaps most importantly, they held Missouri to just 28.8% shooting from the field and just a 3-23 (13%) performance from beyond the arc.
With the loss — the first Missouri suffered at home in Big 12 play — the Tigers drop to 8-8 in the league, which is terrible given the amount of talent on that roster.
And the problem is easy to identify. The Tigers stink when it comes to half court execution.
I know that Kansas is as good as anyone in the country when it comes to executing on the offensive end of the floor, but it is an enormous red flag that Missouri was able to force 25 turnovers today and still managed to dig themselves a 13 point hole at home.
When the brackets come out in eight days, pick Mizzou at your own risk.