- Associated Press - Saturday, March 5, 2011

COLUMBIA, MO. (AP) - If No. 22 Missouri can beat No. 2 Kansas on senior day, it will finish unbeaten at home for the second time in three seasons.

However on the road, the Tigers struggle to get wins.

It’s a riddle coach Mike Anderson and players no longer have to worry about solving. After Saturday’s finale, the rest of the season will be on neutral courts.

Missouri (22-8, 8-7 Big 12) is 17-0 at home, winning by an average of 22.5 points.

“You don’t want to go undefeated all the way at home until the last game,” junior forward Laurence Bowers said.

Anderson’s team has an RPI of 31, and might be safe for a NCAA tournament berth.

But the Tigers will be seeded no higher than fourth in the Big 12 tournament and as low as seventh, and a loss in the home finale to the Jayhawks (28-2, 13-2) would leave them 8-8 overall in the conference and on a three-game losing streak.

The gaping hole in Missouri’s resume is a 1-7 road record in conference play, the lone win over lowly Iowa State.

Kansas has won 13 of the past 16 in the hotly contested border series and is one of few schools enjoying any success at Mizzou Arena.

Missouri is 52-2 at home the past four seasons, both losses coming to the Jayhawks, and got blown out in the second half of a 103-86 loss in Lawrence, Kan., on Feb. 7.

A win on Saturday, and Kansas won’t risk sharing the Big 12 title with Texas.

“We could play shirts and skins with nobody in the stands, and I think our guys would be excited to play,” coach Bill Self said. “That’s probably the primary thing, but also the chance to win the league outright is a big factor.”

Anderson and his players speak of the intangibles that serve to motivate at home, even if attendance is down a bit and fans sprint for the exit ramps to beat the traffic even if it’s not clear the game is yet in hand.

“I don’t know what it is, but I’m glad we have it,” junior guard Marcus Denmon said. “The fans are great here, guys are accustomed to this arena and accustomed to the gym.”

The home-road split against Kansas State was 26 points _ a 16-point win at home and a 10-point loss at Manhattan, Kan.

Missouri lost by 13 at Colorado in the conference opener, then handled the Buffaloes by 16 at home.

After losing Tuesday at Nebraska, another school that Missouri beat at home, Anderson said the team has “moved on and our guys understand.”

He’s said that before, too many times.

“We know we didn’t play our best, we turned the ball over 17 times to a team that packs it in,” Anderson said. “Whether it be the focus or the mindset, we didn’t get the job done.”

Missouri lost by 17 at Kansas, fading badly in the second half, spoiling a first half that was the school’s best on the road in the Big 12. Kansas led 46-42 at the half but emerged from the break with a 10-0 run.

“Going into that earlier game I thought we were ready to go in and pull one off, and I thought we played well for a period,” Anderson said. “Then I thought they took the fight to us. This is Round 2 and obviously we want to defend the home turf.”

The home finale doesn’t figure to be overly sentimental, given forward Justin Safford is the lone senior. That’s one of the reasons Anderson frequently mentions inexperience as a cause for the ups and downs, although juniors Denmon, Bowers and Kim English are three of the key players.

Missouri’s point total in the first meeting was the most against Kansas this season.

“I’ll be shocked if there’s that many points scored Saturday, but it will be a fast game,” Self said. “They want to play fast, and we want to play fast.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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