Missouri's Kim English celebrates as he walks off the court after his team defeated Kansas 74-71 in an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson) By L.G. PATTERSON
Missouri's Marcus Denmon, right, celebrates in front of Kansas' Elijah Johnson, left, after making a basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson) By L.G. PATTERSON
Kansas' Thomas Robinson, left, loses control of the ball as Missouri's Steve Moore, right, defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson) By L.G. PATTERSON
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Marcus Denmon hit three 3-pointers in the final 2:05, the last for the go-ahead points, as No. 4 Missouri fought off No. 8 Kansas 74-71 in Game 1 of what could be the schools' final border showdown on Saturday night.
Denmon scored 29 points, two off his career best, and ended a long-range shooting slump with a career-best six 3-pointers in nine attempts.
The go-ahead 3-pointer came with 56 seconds to go for a one-point lead. Michael Dixon added a pair of free throws with 9.8 seconds left after an offensive foul on Tyshawn Taylor and Kansas' Elijah Johnson missed badly on a shot to tie it at the buzzer.
Missouri (21-2, 8-2 Big 12) beat Kansas for only the second time in the last 12 meetings, and the Tigers' impending departure for the SEC added spice to the final conference meeting in Columbia, Mo.
Thomas Robinson had 25 points and 13 rebounds for Kansas (18-5, 8-2).
Kansas was scoreless the final 3:20 after Taylor dunked for a 71-63 lead.
Missouri is 13-0 at home, and this was the closest call by far for a team that has usually dominated. The previous smallest margin was 11 points over Texas last month.
Under first-year coach Frank Haith, the Tigers beat Kansas for the first time since 2009. Kansas coach Bill Self fell to 17-4 against Missouri.
Denmon had been just 5 for 31 from 3-point range the previous five games, and was held to six points on 3 for 12 overall shooting in a one-point victory at Texas on Monday, and had been spending extra time in the gym working on the shot. He hit all three 3-point attempts in a 16-point first half, helping Missouri take a 39-34 lead.
The border matchup prompted plenty of extra adrenaline, some of it provided by a pumped-up sound system. Missouri mascot Truman the Tiger descended from the ceiling via cable, a nod to the every-night tradition at the old Hearnes Center, and prep-game festivities featured fireworks that left an acrid stench hovering over the court much of the first half.
Fans began camping out Wednesday night to get a spot for ESPN's GameDay, and at least 1,000 students were poised to charge for favorable seating when the gates opened 1 1/2 hours prior to tip-off. Fans on one half of side of the arena stayed on their feet throughout the game, as opposed to taking their seat after Missouri's first basket.
There was little out-of-line behavior, other than a fan heaving what appeared to be a rolled-up T-shirt onto the court after Ricardo Ratliffe was whistled for his fourth foul with 6:22 to go.