The Kansas Jayhawks blew an eight point lead and fell 74-71 in Columbia
Columbia, MO. — And with a three-point bucket from Tyshawn Taylor the end began.
On 265 previous occasions the heavyweights known as the Missouri and Kansas squared off, and this — like every time before — wouldn’t end until one fighter was left screaming in victory and the other tolerating an insufferable defeat.
Saturday night it was Missouri that walked off the court in jubilation, beating the Jayhawks 74-71, and — as Don Fambrough argued — it was a war, one that Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor led, and Marcus Denmon, Kim English, and Michael Dixon staved off.
As if the rumpus crowd at Mizzou Arena were silent, Taylor took control on offense early — knocking down three of four from the field — to give Kansas a 15-14 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the first half.
Taylor would end the first half seven for 12 from the field and with 17 points — No other Kansas player had more than six, and for that reason the Jayhawks were down 39-34 facing their last 20 minutes in Columbia.
“Tyshawn is damn good,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the game, “He played so well the first half and kept us in the game.”
And while the first half belonged to Taylor, the second came down to Thomas Robinson, mainly because any offense from that point had to go through him.
After only taking five shots in the first 20 minutes — making three of them — Robinson commanded the ball and jacked up 12 more the rest of the way, giving him 25 points to accompany his 13 rebounds.
With the clock winding down it looked all but over for the Tigers who were trailing 71-63 with 2:28 left, and it looked like Robinson was just too much for the undersized Missouri squad.
So when Marcus Denmon missed a three-pointer and Robinson streaked up the court with the ball it seemed as though the dagger had been raised and ready to slice through the years of hatred between the two schools.
But the dagger never came down.
“Thomas has a bad possession,” Self said, “We want to use a little clock and he tries to score too quick. Of course he played his butt off and it’s hard to fault a guy for trying, but we didn’t do well there, and they came down and made shots.”
After Robinson’s miss, Denmon got his revenge hitting a layup and getting fouled by Robinson in the process.
As quickly as the game got out of hand, it had become 71-66 with momentum draping the black and gold.
Taylor tried to recapture Kansas’ grasp but in doing so lost the ball twice in the last 1:15 — Missouri wouldn’t return the favor.
“We turned the ball over and they made shots,” Taylor said, “That’s it.”
So for the 95th time in 104 years the Jayhawks fell to the Tigers, but in this final act, it was only round one.