After 20 minutes at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, the Missouri Tigers lead the Kansas Jayhawks 44-32. Missouri is looking to bounce back from a home loss to Kansas State while the Jayhawks look to avenge their loss to the Tigers, which featured an end-of-game meltdown that squandered a comfortable lead. It's the last meeting as Big 12 conference members between these two old rivals. And, with both ranked in the top five, it's the game of the day in college basketball.
While Missouri is known for its dynamic four-guard attack, it has been Ricardo Ratliffe on inside who's given Frank Haith's club a huge boost. Ratliffe has been incredibly active on the glass, grabbing five offensive rebounds (nine total) and adding 10 points. He helped Mizzou build an early five-point lead in the half.
Mike Dixon and Marcus Denmon did the damage on the outside for the Tigers. Dixon came off the bench and immediately added 11 points, while also dishing three assists. Denmon, along with Phil Pressey, helped lead a late 10-2 run that helped build the Tigers lead to as many as 13. Denmon finished with 13 points, hitting three treys. As a team, the Tigers hit 5 of 11 threes to build the late 12-point lead.
Jeff Withey, the Jayhawks' seven-foot center, went to the locker room early with a sprained ankle. Withey is a difference-maker for Kansas but he struggled mightily in the Jayhawks' loss to the Tigers earlier this month. He played only 23 minutes and was held scoreless. On Saturday, he returned from the locker room and re-entered the game but has been hampered by early foul trouble. Once again, he's scoreless.
Teaming up with Withey on the interior for Kansas is the All-American candidate Thomas Robinson. The Jayhawks' dominant power forward has 10 points so far but has also been whistled for two fouls, the second coming on a questionable block-charge toss-up. Kansas will have to get more on the interior and limit the Tigers fastbreak and guards' penetration to get back in it in the second half.