Iowa St.-Missouri Preview

Missouri blew its chance to pull even for the top spot in the
Big 12 over the weekend. No longer able to win the conference title
in their last season in the league, the Tigers must now focus on
holding off other teams for second place.

One of those squads is surging Iowa State, which can tie No. 7
Missouri in the standings with a win Wednesday night as the crowd
at Mizzou Arena honors the winningest class in school history.

Missouri (25-4, 12-4) appeared on its way to moving into a
first-place tie with Kansas on Saturday when it built a 19-point
lead over the then-No. 4 Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas, though, stormed back and outscored the Tigers 43-31 in
the second half en route to an 87-86 overtime win.

“These guys played their hearts out. We left it on the court,”
Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “I read everything – we weren’t
supposed to be in the game. We came out and competed.”

With Missouri moving to the SEC next season, its 105-year-old
rivalry with the Jayhawks came to an end.

“Just the fact this one went to overtime, every play is so big,”
said senior guard Marcus Denmon, who scored 28 points. “We had
ample opportunities to close this game and we couldn’t do it.”

Kansas won 70-58 at Oklahoma State on Monday night to claim the
Big 12 title outright, but that doesn’t mean Missouri has nothing
more at stake in the regular season.

The Tigers lead No. 9 Baylor by one-half game for second place
and are one game ahead of Iowa State (21-8, 11-5). Missouri earned
a 76-69 road win over the Cyclones on Jan. 11 for its eighth
straight victory in the series, but Iowa State is playing well and
coming off an impressive road win of its own.

The Cyclones beat Kansas State 65-61 on Saturday for their third
straight victory overall and seventh in nine games. That stretch
started Jan. 28 with a 72-64 home win over then-No. 5 Kansas.

Iowa State may also be catching the Tigers at the right time, as
they’ve dropped two in a row for the first time this season.

Senior guard Scott Christopherson scored a season-high 29 points
to lead Iowa State on Saturday, shooting 10-of-13 including 5 for 5
from 3-point range.

Christopherson had a game-high 19 points in last month’s matchup
with Missouri, which had six of its seven players score in double
figures.

Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg is hoping for a similar
performance from Christopherson, but isn’t putting too much stock
into the Tigers entering on a bit of a slide.

“They’re still really fast, they still shoot it really well,
they’re still really good,” Hoiberg said. “… They do so many
different things that can hurt you.”

Iowa State already has its most wins since the 2000-01 team
finished 25-6 and won the Big 12 title.

That accomplishment still pales in comparison to the Missouri
senior class being honored Wednesday night. It has won a
school-record 102 games in the last four seasons, led by Denmon,
Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe.

Denmon ranks ninth all-time in scoring at Missouri, while
English is 13th. Ratliffe is on pace to break the school record for
shooting percentage, as he leads the nation at 71.2 percent.