Kansas State leads the all-time series with Missouri 118-117, including a three-game win streak to surge into the lead.
Aside from Kansas, there’s no team the Tigers, 2-1, have played more than the Wildcats, 3-0.
It’s a rivalry that dates to 1907 and, among teams currently in the NCAA Division I ranks, Kansas State is the first that Missouri ever played.
Until moving to the SEC after the 2012 season, the Tigers had faced Wildcats at least twice a year since 1927.
The rivalry will be renewed for the first time in four seasons at 6 p.m. Monday in the semifinals of the CBE Classic at the Sprint Center.
“It’s an old Big 12 rivalry, so I’m really excited to play against those guys,” said Missouri freshman forward Kevin Puryear, a Blue Springs South graduate. “All my friends and family are going to be there, so that’s going to be really exciting, too. It’s just going to be a great experience overall for this team. … This is definitely a statement game. This is definitely a big game.”
Puryear remembers the rivalry from his childhood, especially the years when Michael Beasley played at K-State, but second-year coach Kim Anderson had to explain the rivalry to the rest of the Tigers.
“I did try to tell them that this is a rivalry game, this is kind of a special game, because some of the guys that don’t live around here don’t probably get that,” Anderson said. “Next to Kansas, at least when I was here the past few years, Kansas State was your biggest rival. This will be a great atmosphere, hopefully, and a chance to play a rivalry game.”
Missouri’s players may not understand the depth and context of rivalry, but there’s an acute of understanding of one aspect of it.
“From what I hear, it’s a pretty decent rivalry for Mizzou fans against anything Kansas,” said MU sophomore guard Namon Wright, a Los Angeles native. “I guess no one at Mizzou likes anything Kansas. We’re going to go try to get that win.”
Rebounding will be critical toward that end. The undersized Tigers got crushed 40-28 on the glass in a loss Tuesday at Xavier.
K-State ranks 45th nationally, securing 56.9 percent of rebounds, while Missouri is 173rd at 49.5 percent.
“Watching the tape, they have all five guys going (to the glass) every time,” freshman guard K.J. Walton said. “No matter what shot they take, all of their guys are going to the boards. We’re going to really have to emphasize rebounding going to that game.”
Expect to see more games against former Big 12 teams moving forward. Anderson said, aside from the Jayhawks, he senses the ice that froze relationships with those member schools after the Tigers joined the SEC is melting.
“(Kansas State coach) Bruce (Weber) and I have talked just casually about maybe playing in the future,” Anderson said. “It hasn’t gotten very serious, but we talked about that. That’s a great rivalry, Missouri/Kansas State, so I think it will be good. … It’s good for the fans and, for regional interest, it’s good to play those teams.”
North Carolina and Northwestern meet in the other CBE Classic semifinal at 8 p.m. Monday.