Missouri basketball returns to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY — Missouri and Oklahoma State announced Monday the former Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12 rivals will meet once again on the basketball floor on Dec. 30 at the Sprint Center.

Meeting for the 119th time in series history, the Tigers own a 77-41 advantage against the Cowboys. The teams last met at the Sprint Center in 2012, with Missouri grabbing a 88-70 win en route to the 2012 Big 12 Championship.

“In joining the Southeastern Conference two years ago, we talked about our commitment to our fans throughout Missouri, and in particular, our fans in Kansas City,” Missouri director of athletics Mike Alden said in a statement Monday. “We have tremendous fan support in this part of the state, and it is critically important to us as a University to have a strong presence in Kansas City.

“Oklahoma State is a terrific program, and we look forward to partnering with them in what will be an exciting game.”

Missouri is under the direction of first-year head coach Kim Anderson, who returns to his alma mater after winning the 2014 NCAA Division II national championship at the University of Central Missouri. The Sedalia native led the Mules to three Final Four Appearances and was named the 2014 NABC National Coach of the Year.

Missouri went 23-12 last season and advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. The Tigers return two starters,Jonathan Williams III and Ryan Rosburg.

Williams averaged 5.8 points per game and 6.5 rebounds, while Rosburg made 32 starts and averaged 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds. Sophomore point guard Wes Clark is also back after averaging 4.1 points and ranking second on the team with 70 assists.

Missouri claimed a 92-80 victory against Hawaii during the Tigers’ last trip to the Sprint Center on Nov. 16, 2013. Missouri has won six consecutive games at the venue, dating back to the 2011-12 season.

“What a special game for the fans and former players of both universities,” Anderson said. “I remember playing Oklahoma State in Kansas City twice while I was in school and those were two great games. Our two universities share great history with one another and conference affiliation isn’t going to change that fact.”

Oklahoma State went 21-13 last season and made the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. The Cowboys return three players who started at least 10 games last season, including senior Le Bryan Nash, a three-time All-Big 12 selection, who averaged 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Also returning is junior Phil Forte, last season’s co-winner of the Big 12’s inaugural Sixth Man Award. Forte is the league’s leading returner in 3-point and free-throw shooting.

Senior Michael Cobbins, who sat out the second half of last season due to a Achilles’ injury, has started 55 games in his career and ranks among the school’s top 10 career shot blockers.

“We’ve had some thrilling games with Mizzou the past several seasons,” Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford said. “It is also exciting to play an early-season game in the same venue that hosts the Big 12 Championship.”

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