Lagerald Vick has never played in a Kansas-Missouri basketball game.
Vick, KU’s 6-foot-5 junior combo guard from Memphis, has visited with several ex-Jayhawks about the sheer excitement of the series between the Border War participants, however.
“I heard there’s a lot of history behind it. I heard the games are rough. There’s a lot of rivalry there, so I feel like it will be an exciting game,” Vick said, flashing a wide smile while discussing an upcoming KU-MU exhibition game to benefit hurricane relief set for 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22, at the Sprint Center.
Vick will be pleased to learn the Jayhawks lead the all-time series against the Tigers, 173-95. It’s a series that ran uninterrupted from 1907 to 2012, then was halted when Mizzou left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.
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“I think it’ll be great,” Big 12 preseason player of the year Devonté Graham said of getting to play Mizzou during his college career, even in a game that doesn’t count in the record books.
“I heard it was to raise money for the flood (victims). I know it’ll be a good turnout,” Graham added.
It could be quite an environment considering there figures to be about 9,000 KU fans, 9,000 Missouri fans seated at the Sprint Center.
“I feel like any game you play is competitive,” said Graham, a senior point guard. “I don’t think it’ll be unusual.”
He said he’s familiar with the Tigers’ personnel.
“I know a couple of them,” Graham said. “I have not played against (freshman forward) Michael Porter but a couple of them before.”
Another KU senior, Svi Mykhailiuk, also is energized about playing the Tigers.
“It’s a great game. We’re going to raise a lot of money and it’s great to help people. It’s a big rivalry, but we’re just talking about basketball here. I am not from here, so it’s just basketball for me,” Mykhailiuk, a shooting guard from Ukraine, stated.
Kansas sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot was reminded by a recruiting writer at Friday’s KU Basketball Media Day that his Arizona-based AAU team had defeated Porter’s Mokan Elite AAU squad before.
“We won?” Lightfoot said with a smile. “I wish I could remember. It’s one of those games playing as hard as you can trying to stop someone as hard to guard as him. He (Porter) is a really good player, obviously. The kid is an exceptional basketball player. He has an amazing touch for someone his size (6-foot-10, 215). Hats off to him. He’s a good player,” Lightfoot added.
Lightfoot said he appreciates the opportunity to break up preseason camp with a game versus Mizzou. KU’s first of two exhibitions on the actual 2017-18 schedule is versus Pittsburg State on Oct. 31 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“Honestly this will be a fun game for charity,” Lightfoot said. “It will be a good game. I’m really excited to get out there and represent KU. At the end of the day, it’s for charity. It’ll be fun.”
Self said his players figure to be enthused about the contest but not because of past KU-MU games.
“None of them played in it,” Self said. They don’t know. They’ll get excited because I’m sure there will be enough people around here that will get excited for them to play in the game, just like their people will, too, but we don’t talk about that as a group. I’m sure there will be some things mentioned between now and then, but that’s our focus, and I’m sure their (MU) focus, too, is getting their team ready for the season.
“But this is a good opportunity to help prepare your team for the season because you’ll see some different things.”
KU, by the way, will not have its redshirt players available. NCAA rules prohibit transfers Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson, Charlie Moore and Sam Cunliffe from participating. The Jayhawks will dress just eight scholarship players and two walk-ons.
“Absolutely, yes. I can’t believe it’s not a bonus, getting a chance to do that,” Self said of an extra game helping prepare both teams for the season.
“I don’t see any potential negatives in that. The byproduct of playing a game is it can possibly help both teams. The actual reason why we’re playing it doesn’t have anything to do with that, though,” Self added of the sole purpose of raising money for hurricane relief.