The mood for the evening was set the moment Scott Skinner walked into Shiloh Bar & Grill to a chorus of boos.
His crime? He was sporting a Kansas Jayhawks T-shirt.
“I really didn’t expect that,” he said. “I guess I haven’t lived here long enough.”
The crowd of Missouri Tiger fans that greeted Skinner had only one true objective for the night — watching the hated Jayhawks lose to Kentucky. And for a while, everything was right with the world. The Wildcats jumped all over Kansas early and made the NCAA championship look like it was going to be a blowout.
And the crowd loved every Kentucky drunk and Kansas blocked shot.
“For me, it’s not really the players or even the school. It’s the Kansas fans. They’re irrational and obnoxious,” said Jared King, a Missouri alum. “We live, die and breathe Missouri athletics, but as soon as we lose, we focus on rooting against Kansas.”
Jordan Pannett is one of those Kansas fans, and he showed up to Shiloh on Monday night wearing his KU gear and ready to cheer on the Jayhawks.
“I wasn’t in the door a minute and someone wanted to pick a fight with me,” he said, later adding: “But I think a beating would be worth a Kansas win. As long as it wasn’t too bad.”
For Tiger fans, the specter of 2008 hung in the air. Four years ago, Missouri fans gathered at Shiloh in the hopes of watching Kansas fall to Memphis in the NCAA final. But Memphis blew a nine-point lead in the last two minutes and lost to Kansas in overtime.
After Kansas cut Kentucky’s lead to six points with a little more than a minute to go, a feeling of doom filled the bar.
“After 2008, I wanted to get in a car wreck on the way home,” King said. “I just couldn’t bear the idea of hearing about this game for the next two weeks.”
But Kansas’ hopes were fleeting, and for King, there would be no need to wish for a car wreck this year. As the seconds ticked down and a Kansas defeat became inevitable, the gleeful crowd chanted, “SEC! SEC!”
Nate Kling, a graduate student at Missouri, may have summed up the evening as he watched the faces of distraught Jayhawk fans splash across the TV after the game.
“Something about Kansas fans crying is really beautiful to me,” Kling said.