What we learned about Mizzou basketball in latest test against the Kansas Jayhawks

It’s been this way since 1999.

Mizzou men’s basketball briefly gave its fans reason to dream, but this is the Border War. And since the rivalry’s revival in 2021, there’s only one team that’s rocked and chalked up tallies in the win column.

No. 2-ranked Kansas overcame an early nine-point deficit to hand Mizzou a fourth straight Border Showdown loss, defeating the Tigers 73-64 on Saturday evening at Allen Fieldhouse. The Tigers have not beat KU in Phog Allen since January 1999.

Missouri looked like it arrived in Lawrence with an upset on the mind. But it quickly all came crumbling down.

Here are three takeaways from another Border War loss for the Tigers:

Can’t keep KU down

Connor Vanover air-balled from the corner. Noah Carter copied the shot from nearly the same spot moments later. Nick Honor, shortly after, got the ball on a breakaway, pulled up at the arc completely free … and air-balled.

The Phog Allen crowd quite liked that run. They chanted “air ball” every time Honor touched the ball for the rest of the game.

And they had reason to have some fun.

While Mizzou stumbled over its own feet to the tune of zero points in the final 4 minutes, 26 seconds of the half and coupled that with three careless turnovers, Kansas was on a tear.

After starting the game 2-of-12 from the field, the Jayhawks made nine of their next 11 to beat down what had been a staunch defensive effort from the Tigers.

They Jayhawks, after once trailing by nine points, ended the half on a 20-2 run over the final 5:54 to take a 12-point lead into the break.

And in Allen Fieldhouse, that’s as good as a death warrant.

Few free throws … again

Pick a stat, and it’s likely to show you how not to win in Allen Fieldhouse.

Twelve turnovers to 11 assists? Yes.

Outrebounded 42-25? That too.

But perhaps the most damning is Missouri’s continued inability to get to the free-throw line.

The Tigers did not make it to the line until their first possession of the second half.

They shot 13 free throws over the remainder of the half in a much-improved effort, but it was too late.

It was the seventh time — in 10 games — this season that MU had 14 or fewer shots from the line.

Sean East, Connor Vanover provide sparks

In the first half it was Sean East II.

He was 6-of-11 from the field for a 14-point first half and added six assists. In that span, nearly every offensive possession went through the Tigers’ captain and most valuable player through 10 games.

In the second half, after a sloppy start to the game, Connor Vanover took the reins to help the Tigers play a more competitive game.

When the game appeared to be getting away from MU, Vanover went on a personal 7-0 run to help his team get within 10 with about 10 minutes to go. The Tigers ran screens through him, getting away from a dominant Hunter Dickinson, but also to open some space around the perimeter. Shortly after the under-eight media timeout, a Nick Honor 3-pointer that ran through Vanover resulted in the Tigers getting back to a single-digit deficit.

But neither East nor Vanover could provide enough as Kansas kept responding down the stretch.

With slightly more than five minutes remaining and the Tigers down 10, Vanover and East were a combined 10-of-18 (55.6%) shooting from the field; the rest of the squad was 9-of-33 (27.3%).

The Star has partnered with the Columbia Daily Tribune for coverage of Missouri Tigers athletics.