Missouri to host Kansas State today

Texas A&M's Dash Harris, left, tries to knock the ball from Missouri's Michael Dixon (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, in College Station, Texas.

Texas A&M's Dash Harris, left, tries to knock the ball from Missouri's Michael Dixon (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, in College Station, Texas. Photo by The Associated Press.

If there can be such a thing as a must-win game in mid-January, this may be it.

The Missouri Tigers (15-3) and Kansas State Wildcats (13-5) enter this afternoon’s game at Mizzou Arena with top-25 rankings in the Associated Press and USAToday/ESPN polls.

But both the Tigers and Wildcats are 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference heading into the 4:30 p.m. contest (ESPN-TV) and a third loss would almost surely derail any hopes of winning the conference regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the postseason Big 12 tournament.

The Tigers are coming off a 91-89 overtime loss Saturday afternoon to the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, Texas. Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe had 19 points each in the loss, Missouri’s seventh straight defeat in the series against Texas A&M.

Missouri, 11-0 in games at Mizzou Arena this season, has won its last nine conference games after taking a league loss.

Kansas State romped to a 94-60 home win Saturday over Texas Tech. Four Wildcats, led by Jamar Samuels’ 22 points, scored in double figures in the convincing victory.

Returning all-conference guard Jacob Pullen added 21, while Rodney McGruder had 16 and Curtis Kelly chipped in with 12. Kelly, a preseason All-Big 12 pick, was making his return after a six-game suspension.

Four teams enter the week undefeated in conference play. Texas A&M and Colorado are both 3-0, while Kansas and Texas are 2-0.

The game is part of ESPN’s Big Monday package. The last time Missouri played anyone but Kansas on Big Monday was in the 2001-02 season when the Tigers squared off with the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

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