Previewing Monday's Jayhawks-Tigers game -

Previewing Monday's Jayhawks-Tigers game

Monday's game in Columbia will pit the Missouri Tigers (20-4, 7-2 in the Big 12) against the current No. 21 Kansas Jayhawks (19-4, 8-0). Both teams are having strong -- and perhaps surprising -- seasons.

Also, the new AP Top 25 rankings will be released Monday and this will no doubt feature two ranked squads after Mizzou's victories at Texas and Iowa State this week.

And, by the way, these teams don't like each other too much.

After losing all five of their starters from last season, the Jayhawks are putting up a much stronger defense of their national title than anyone expected. While 8-0 in conference play does glow a bit, it's important to note they have yet to play No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 17 Texas or the Tigers.

Kansas is coming off a 78-67 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday. The young Jayhawks are led by junior guard Sherron Collins, who is averaging 18 points a game.

Center Cole Aldrich, a sophomore, has also been an important contributor and is averaging 15 points and 2.5 blocks per game.

A pair of freshmen -- guard Tyshawn Taylor and forward Marcus Morris -- have also been critical to Kansas' success. Taylor has been named the Big 12 rookie of the week three times this season, and Morris has started six straight while averaging five rebounds a game.

Meanwhile, Missouri has won three straight and is 11-2 in the last 13 games. Kansas will enter an imposing environment at Mizzou Arena, where the Tigers have won 15 in a row.

Senior forward DeMarre Carrol continues to be the Tigers most consistent performer. In Saturday's win at Iowa State, Carrol collected a career high 31 points.

Carrol and fellow senior Leo Lyons have dominated the low post for the Tigers since the start of conference play. The two combine to average 32 points a night for the Tigers, who are leading the Big 12 in scoring.

The Jayhawks have won five straight against Missouri, but are just 2-2 at Mizzou Arena.

ESPN will feature the Boarder Showdown as its "Big Monday" matchup. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Note: Michael Bittner is a journalism student at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

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