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.