Missouri men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson won’t be gently immersed into the Division I ranks.
The Tigers’ already rugged nonconference schedule got even tougher Monday when MU and the Kansas City Sports Commission announced a Dec. 30 game against Oklahoma State at the Sprint Center.
“It’s a real ambitious schedule, but this is a game, when it was brought to me, was something that I feel great about,” Anderson said during a news conference at the arena.
Anderson praised the Kansas City fan base, for Missouri and college sports generally, and also acknowledged the potential recruiting benefits of maintaining a presence for the program in Kansas City among the reasons.
“We want to play here every year and it’s a quality opponent,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a smart game for me to schedule, but I think it’s a great game and I think it’s something the Kansas City people — and I know they will — will rally around.”
Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said having Anderson, who has Big Eight/Big 12 ties from his days on Norm Stewart’s staff and when he worked for the Big 12 as director of basketball operations, helped cement the marquee matchup.
“It came up after he was hired,” Alden said, “and I think that Kim’s presence and his involvement had a lot to do with that (getting it done).”
Alden said he and Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder started talking about the game roughly one month ago. He thanked Holder and Cowboys coach Travis Ford for their willingness “to play a high-level game here at the Sprint Center.”
Missouri and Oklahoma State will be meeting for the 119th time. The Tigers own a 77-41 edge in the all-time series, including a victory in the most recent meeting during the 2012 Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center — which MU won before joining the Southeastern Conference.
“Obviously, we’re thrilled about a game of this magnitude coming to our city,” said Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission.
Both Alden and Anderson reiterated Missouri’s position that scheduling an annual game in Kansas City is important for the university and the program.
“We’ve been able to establish an anchor event in St. Louis on an annual basis,” Alden said. “It’s our intention that we would like to have and want to have an anchor event, an anchor basketball event in particular, in Kansas City every year as well.”
Missouri will play in the 2015 CBE Classic at the Sprint Center, where Kansas State, North Carolina and Northwestern are expected to round out the field, but Alden wants a permanent game against a regional opponent moving forward.
Ideally, it would be a Border War redux with Kansas, but the Jayhawks remain unwilling to schedule the Tigers since their move to the SEC.
Missouri will play at Oklahoma on Dec. 5 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and squares off with Illinois on Dec. 20 in the annual Braggin’ Rights Game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The Tigers also are slated for the Maui Classic this fall, a field that includes Arizona, San Diego State and Kansas State.
Missouri also will play Xavier at home sometime in December in addition to the Oklahoma State game.
Anderson also told the Tiger Club of KC on Monday that the Tigers will open the season in Columbia against UMKC.
Alden said the North Carolina State return game in Columbia has been moved to next season. Missouri also will play at Xavier in 2015-16.