LAWRENCE, Kan. — With the Kansas and Missouri playing in their first Border War basketball game in nine years, the energy in Allen Fieldhouse was electric.
Jayhawks fans filled the arena and any Mizzou fans were drowned out in the sea of blue and red.
While Kansas dominated the game and took the win 102-65, players on both sides said they loved the environment and are happy that the rivalry is back in full swing.
“I feel like everybody wanted to go out there and win. It was a lot of people there, we just wanna go out there and put on a show,” Missouri guard Javon Pickett said (led the team with 19 points). “We just wanted to go out there and compete and win. Obviously didn’t come out with the victory but just wanted to go out there and compete.”
“It was fun playing in front of a crowd like this,” Missouri’s Kobe Brown said. “I haven’t had many games in front of a crowd that big.”
Redshirt sophomore Dajuan Harris is from Columbia and scored a career-high 13 points vs. Mizzou; the program that didn’t recruit him until after Kansas did.
“I had some family down here. I wanted to perform good in front of my family, then my teammates then the crowd. And it’s my birthday too,” Harris said.
Blue Valley Northwest’s Christian Braun only had 13 points but his impact on the game was monumental. Coach Bill Self and his teammates applauded him for bringing great energy all game long.
“I told the guys after the first five minutes I was kind of tired. I think I tired myself out,” Braun says with a laugh.
“That was the most fun I’ve had in my life. I feel like I was born for that.”
Both head coaches Self and Mizzou’s Cuonzo Martin said the atmosphere was loud and fun. But as much as they acknowledge the rivalry, they won’t blow it up to the lore that it once was at.
“We just a lost a game in my opinion. We lost to a good team, we move forward,” Martin said. “I guess if you’re keeping a score it’s 1-0.”
“I personally think it doesn’t have the same feel,” Self said.
“To me when you play Missouri, it’s such a big game because it’s magnified because it’s for a bigger picture. Today wasn’t for a bigger picture so today was just a nonconference game that at the end of the season won’t mean anything other than just us playing each other when in the past, our games have impacted if we won the league or not.”
If Mizzou brings better teams to the game in the next few years, maybe the coaches will rethink their statements.
As of now, the environment will always be rocking but with only bragging rights on the line, winning the Border War may not be the same for these programs.