No. 4 Jayhawks beat No. 3 Missouri 87-86 in OT

By Dave Skretta

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 25 2012 8:44 p.m. MST

Kansas mascots celebrate at the start of overtime during an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. Kansas defeated Missouri 87-86 in overtime.

Orlin Wagner, Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. — It was the best atmosphere that Kansas coach Bill Self could remember. Thomas Robinson said the Jayhawks rose to another level. Tyshawn Taylor simply smiled, shook his head in disbelief, and tried to describe his emotions.

"I'm so proud of my teammates," he said finally. "They stuck it out, man."

In the final scheduled game between Kansas and Missouri, it was only fitting the two bitter adversaries would need five extra minutes to decide it.

Robinson's three-point play in the waning moments of regulation kept their 105-year-old rivalry alive, and Taylor's foul shots with 8.3 seconds remaining gave the fourth-ranked Jayhawks a dramatic 87-86 victory over the No. 3 Tigers on Saturday.

"That couldn't have been scripted a lot better for us," said Self, whose team wrapped up a share of an unprecedented eighth straight conference championship. "I'm not the most emotional guy, but that's about as good as it gets."

Missouri, which blew a 19-point second-half lead, never got off a winning try after Taylor's two free throws. Michael Dixon was boxed in by Robinson as he tried to get to the basket, and the buzzer eventually sounded on a series steeped in tradition.

"These guys played their hearts out. We left it on the court," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "I read everything — we weren't supposed to be in the game. We came out and competed."

Robinson finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds for Kansas (24-5, 14-2), which sent the Tigers off to the Southeastern Conference with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Taylor added 24 points and five assists, and Connor Teahan knocked down all four of his 3-pointers as the Jayhawks mounted their big second-half charge.

"Just the whole situation combined made it one of the best victories I've been a part of," said Teahan, who was a freshman on the 2008 national championship team.

Marcus Denmon had 28 points to lead Missouri (25-4, 12-4). Ricardo Ratliffe finished with 22 points, Dixon added 17 and Kim English had 11.

"We had the game in our hands," English said. "We gave them a gift."

The Tigers were controlling the game early in the second half, but Kansas methodically chopped away, Robinson working inside and the Jayhawks taking advantage of the Tigers' foul trouble.

Robinson's basket inside with 2:28 remaining got the Jayhawks within 71-70, and Travis Releford answered a basket by Denmon with two free throws. Ratliffe restored a three-point lead with two foul shots of his own, but the Jayhawks still had time to draw even.

Robinson took a feed in the post and backed down Dixon, getting his leaner to go as he was undercut for the foul. His free throw with 16.1 seconds left tied the game at 75.

"I want to see that foul," Haith said afterward.

The Tigers had the final possession, clearing the lane for Phil Pressey to drive to the rim. But Robinson was there once more, swatting away his shot to force overtime.

"I think I had my eyes closed, to be honest with you," Robinson said.

Kansas struck first in the extra session when Taylor curled in a 3-pointer. Denmon's 3 kept the Tigers close, and another 3 from the wing with 39 seconds left gave them an 84-83 lead.

Taylor pushed Kansas back ahead when he dunked off a bounce pass from Elijah Johnson with 26.2 seconds left, and Denmon's baseline jumper with 12 seconds to go set up some high drama.

As if the series could have ended any other way.

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