By Nicholas Jacquin, Sports Writer
For the first time in five years, the Missouri Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks played a college basketball game against each other. Although it was not quite to the level of past matchups, with this game being just an exhibition matchup, it certainly lived up to the hype. The top-five recruiting class of Missouri made for a great matchup versus the more experienced Jayhawks.
The two Border War rivals came together on Sunday afternoon in Kansas City for a great cause. The Showdown for Relief was created just two weeks ago as a way to raise money for the victims of the recent hurricanes that tore through Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. It was great to see the bitter rivals come together to raise over $1.75 million for those who lost nearly everything from the natural disasters.
It was a charged atmosphere inside the Sprint Center, as nearly 19,000 fans packed the arena to full capacity. Although the level of competition was not in midseason form, there were some exciting takeaways from the game. With over three weeks until each team begins the 2017-2018 season, each team also found some areas where they can improve upon.
Also, for the first time since joining the Tigers in March, Mizzou fans were able to see last year’s player of the year and top recruit in the nation, Michael Porter, Jr. Porter showed some bright moments in the matchup for the Tigers and he looks to be well on his way to having a great season.
While both teams appeared to be going back and forth in the first half, Kansas was able to jump out to an eight-point lead. Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, Devonte’ Graham, was a big reason why, making his first five shots, including four three-pointers. He finished with 25 points and showed why he and the Jayhawks are a team to keep an eye on in the upcoming season. However, Mizzou was able to put together a great stretch of their own, a 20-7 run towards the end of the half. Porter Jr. scored the final five points of the half and the Tigers took a 44-40 lead to the break.
Kansas was able to come out strong in the second half and they battled back to take the lead from Mizzou. The Jayhawks put together a 19-5 run to take control of the game, nearly putting the game out of reach. However, the Tigers battled back but in the end, but it was not enough, and Kansas held on for the 93-87 victory.
Porter, Jr. led the Tigers with 21 points, but he did struggle from the field, shooting just 30% on 20 shots. He seemed to struggle at times throughout the game and there will be some growing pains for the freshman, but he was the number one player in the country for a reason so expect him to bounce back. Look for Porter, Jr. to lead the Tigers this year, and if all goes well, it could be a very fun team to watch, as they look to turn around a program who has struggled in recent years.