COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas lost the outright Big 12 title, and
may have lost one of its best players.
Thomas Gardner matched his career best with 23 points and Linas
Kleiza tied his with 14 rebounds, helping Missouri to a 72-68 upset
Sunday that knocked the seventh-ranked Jayhawks into a tie for
first place with Oklahoma.
Fans from the first sellout of the season at the new Mizzou
Arena streamed onto the court at the finish as Missouri ended a
four-game losing streak to its bitter border rival.
"We've shown all season we can play with good teams," guard
Jason Conley said. "We just have to keep it going, that's all it
Kansas forward Keith Langford had five points in 3 minutes
before re-injuring the left ankle he hurt at the start of practice
last week. Langford, who was on crutches after the game, is the
Jayhawks' second-leading scorer at 15.1 points.
Coach Bill Self characterized the injury as "pretty severe."
"I think it affects us tremendously," Self said. "He's the
best slasher in the league, but that's not an excuse. He can't put
any weight on it, whatsoever."
Langford, who was injured when he stepped on Brian Dailey's
foot, was more optimistic and hopes to play in this week's
conference tournament. Second-seeded Kansas' first game is Friday
against either Kansas State or Texas A&M.
"I don't feel this is really going to be long-term," Langford
said. "I'm just going to get with the doctor and get everything
taken care of, then go from there."
Wayne Simien had 17 points and eight rebounds for Kansas (22-5,
12-4). But Simien, who had 57 points and 32 rebounds in his
previous two games, went more than 15 minutes between field goals
in the first half.
The loss also could knock Kansas, which has lost four of six,
out of the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
"I'm not going to cry about it and they had better not,
either," Self said. "We had chances to win this league, and we
let opportunities slip through our fingers."
Jimmy McKinney also tied his career best with 21 points and
Kleiza had 15 as the Tigers (15-15, 7-9) played one of their best
games of the season four days after losing by 18 points at Iowa
"I think it helps our guys in a lot of ways," coach Quin
Snyder said. "I'd like for it not to be the culmination of our
McKinney helped fill the void when starting freshman point guard
Jason Horton was suspended Sunday on a game-to-game basis for
"conduct detrimental to the team." McKinney was 6-for-7 from the
field, hit all three of his 3-pointers, and added four assists and
only two turnovers.
"That's what we've been waiting on all year from Jimmy,"
Gardner said. "I think he played his game, had his mind free and
Kansas erased a 15-point second-half deficit before Missouri
clinched it at the free throw line and with the help of two
turnovers in the final 90 seconds by Jayhawks point guard Aaron
Miles. Missouri had only two field goals over the final 10½
minutes, but was 7-for-10 at the line in the last 5 minutes.
"It feels great to beat Kansas," Kleiza said. "We've got to
take what we did good in this game and move on."
Miles and J.R. Giddens, whose 3-pointer tied it at 64 with 3:26
to go, each added 13 points for Kansas.
Missouri, which had lost its previous two games, gets the eighth
seed in the tournament after Snyder won for only the fourth time in
11 chances against Kansas.
Self had been 7-0 against Missouri, including three victories
Missouri built a 43-34 halftime lead on uncharacteristically
accurate 3-point shooting, going 8-of-10. The Tigers, who shoot 31
percent from 3-point range, missed all eight attempts the rest of
Missouri led 49-34 with 17:36 to go and was still comfortably
ahead at 61-50 with 7½ minutes left before Kansas scored nine
straight points to shave the deficit to two.
But Kansas, which scored the first eight points of the game, was
never able to regain the lead.