Tradition. Merriam-Webster defines tradition as: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom). Many of us take tradition for granted. All of our families get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving. We sit around the table and eat good food with good company. Every once in a while there is someone new thrown into the mix. What if the next year it all changed? You wouldn’t have the same guest to your home to enjoy the good time had by all. What if it all came to an end? Your heart would be devastated, crushed and depressed. That is how I felt Saturday evening. Tradition is one of the fueling fires in all of sports. In the NBA, the excitement builds when you hear the Lakers are to play the Celtics. In baseball, the heated feud between the Yankees and Red Sox motivates fans everywhere. Those feuds pale in comparison to the rivalries colleges have. The showdown of tobacco road, Duke vs North Carolina. The war raged between Michigan and Ohio State each year. Those are really good rivalries, but to me one will always stand out in my mind. The Border War. Missouri VS Kansas. A feud that dates back all the way to 1891. However, this isn’t about the sport of football. This is about the Hardwood. This game is played between the baskets.
The first meeting between Mizzou and Kansas on the court took place on Mach 11, 1907. The Tigers beat the Jayhawks 34-31. They decided the game was so good, the next day they played again. The Tigers destroyed Kansas 34-12. Not a real good showing for the man who invented the game of basketball, James Naismith. Funny thing about Mr. Naismith, he is the only losing coach in Kansas Basketball. I find that just a little ironic. Just like that the rivalry was born. A couple of years later, Naismith took his revenge against the Tigers. The Jayhawks won both games.
In 1922 The Jayhawks, who were lead by coach Phog Allen, finished the season 15-1 in the Missouri Valley. Just 164 miles away the Missouri Tigers were also 15-1. The Tigers sent a challenge to Kansas asking for a one game playoff to be held at a neutral site. Phog Allen refused, leaving the decision to be made by the higher ups at the university. At this moment in college basketball there was no tournament to crown a national champion. Kansas ultimately refused the game. The Helms foundation in 1936 went back and awarded national championships to teams before 1936. They awarded the Jayhawks the National Championship in 1922. Missouri took problem with this as the teams split their regular season match ups.
In 1961, in Lawrence Kansas, The Jayhawks defeated the Tigers. However that wasn’t the big story of the game. A bench clearing brawl happened between the two teams. Members of both sides thought maybe it was time to hang up the boots in the rivalry. Later that year, in Columbia, another brawl broke out in a nationally televised game. This time it was not between students, it was between fans and players. Critics say that this was due to the controversy stemming from football season.
We fast forward to 1989, The Jayhawks got beat in Allen Fieldhouse 91-66 to the Tigers. It is the largest deficit of a loss the Jayhawks have experience at home.
In 1990, KU was number one and the Tigers were number two. They are entering one of most historic matches in the series. The Tigers won 77-71. They also beat Kansas when they were ranked 4th in the nation.
In 1995, Kansas becomes the first team to walk into the Hearnes cetner and score 100 points on Missouri’s home floor.
We fast forward to 2007, Kansas travels again to Columbia. This time they face the Tigers in the new Mizzou arena. It was Mike Anderson’s first year as head coach. Mizzou was poised to make the upset against the Jayhawks. Sherron Collins didn’t want that to happen, he scored 23 points off the bench leading the Kansas to an 80-77 win.
This year was two of the best games in the rivalry. In Columbia The Jayhawks and Tigers come into this game both ranked in the top 10 in the nation. Kansas takes an 8 point lead with 3 minutes left. Missouri comes back to win the game 74-71. The rematch in Lawrence places the number 3 Tigers against the Number 4 Jayhawks. Missouri goes up by 19 in the second half, and a lot of people start counting out the Jayhawks. The Jayhawks start chipping away the lead and come back to force the game into overtime. The Jayhawks defeated the Tigers 87-86.
The Border War has had some great games, and awesome moments in the last minutes. I am huge diehard Kansas fan. My blood is red and blue. I am not going to lie about it. I can admit, I hate the Tigers with all my heart. With that being said, I am a realist when it comes to sports. The two best games in the Rivalry took place this year in my opinion. I am very sad to see it come to an end. The history, the tradition, is gone after July 1st when Mizzou goes to the SEC. Next basketball season is going to be very difficult with the Border War. I think fans of both sides will agree. Missouri needs Kansas just like Kansas needs Missouri.