Rivalry games are almost always certain to uncover a hidden gem. The unlikely hero in last night’s basketball game between Missouri and Kansas was freshman guard Sherron Collins.
The Chicago native scored a game-high 23 points off the bench to spark the No. 6 Jayhawks to an 80-77 victory at Allen Fieldhouse. Seven of his 23 came in the final 2 ½ minutes of the game when both teams were back and forth.
“I was just feeling confident. My coaches told me keep being aggressive and just attack the zone,” Collins said. “And I was just picking my points and just waiting until I saw my openings and attacking the gaps. And I think I attacked the gaps and pretty much just hit a couple of big shots.”
“I just got the ball and just went. I wasn’t thinking of what I was going to do, what move, or nothing before. It just came as I went.”
Brandon Rush was the only other KU player to score in double-figures. He pitched in 16 points while Julian Wright grabbed 10 rebounds for the Jayhawks, who won their seventh straight game over the Tigers in Lawrence. Missouri has not won at Kansas since a 73-61 win in 1999.
The question mark for the Tigers going in was how well their pressure defense would fare against the athletic Jayhawks, and if they would be able to rebound. Mizzou answered both of those questions pretty well. They forced Kansas into 17 turnovers while only committing 12 themselves and they won the rebounding battle 43-42 led by Kalen Grimes’ 12 boards. Kansas was fortunate to escape with the win.
“We can rebound, I think it’s just a mindset and making sure we emphasize the things that we got to get done,” Mizzou head coach Mike Anderson said.
Forward Matt Lawrence helped the Tigers stay close with a team-high 19 points. Stefhon Hannah pitched in 15 and Marshall Brown added 14. Brown’s two free throws with 2:57 left in regulation actually gave Mizzou a 72-71 lead before Collins took over the game.
MU had a chance to send the game into overtime, but Lawrence’s last-second heave fell short, giving the Jayhawks their 10th win in as many games.
“We were fortunate tonight,” said a relieved Kansas coach Bill Self. “But I’m not going to say we played poorly because that’s not giving Missouri credit. They were terrific tonight and I’m sure Mike agrees they played well. It was a great win that we didn’t play our best, but it was because Missouri played very, very well.”