February 24, 2012

Into the Phog

For players at Mizzou, there is their first game. And then there is their first game at Kansas. Call it their "Welcome to Allen Fieldhouse" moment.

But perhaps it was the Tiger who used the fewest words who summed it up the best.

"It was crazy loud. They have definitely the best crowd I've witnessed," Ricardo Ratliffe said. "They're all in unity and they all hate us."

Kansas is good just about anywhere. In the last five seasons, the Jayhawks are 155-22. But at home, they're virtually unbeatable. Entering Saturday's game, Kansas has won 89 of the last 90 games on its home court.

"Kansas is always an incredible team and they have a great coach so it has to do a lot with the players," said Laurence Bowers, who has lost three times in Lawrence, and is sitting out this season with a torn ACL. "But I think they have a very distinctive home court advantage. I would say the same for Mizzou. There's no way we beat Kansas without that Mizzou crowd. Tyshawn Taylor missed those two free throws because of the Mizzou crowd. So I feel like the home court advantage and the players, probably 75-25 players to the arena."

There are no Allen Fieldhouse virgins on this Missouri team who are likely to see the floor on Saturday. The Tigers are prepared for the environment into which they will walk.

Raucous crowd? No doubt. High stakes? The highest. This time, the Tigers say they'll be ready.

"You've got to practice it. If we practice it before the game, when we get there, we'll be prepared," Phil Pressey said. "We've been working all year for this."

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