basketball action

Junior point guard Terrence Phillips dives for a loose ball.

For the nearly 19,000 fans attending the exhibition basketball game between the Missouri Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks Oct. 22, 2017, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, the sheer joy of reliving one of the nation’s best rivalries was enough to render the outcome almost irrelevant. Almost.

The charity event — dubbed the Showdown for Relief — raised more than $2 million for hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Texas and the U.S Virgin Islands. Fans exchanged full-throated chants of “M-I-Z, Z-O-U!” and “Let’s go Jayhawks!” throughout a contest featuring 14 lead changes, several rim-rocking dunks and, ultimately, a 93-87 KU victory.

Administrators and coaches on both sides were noncommittal about whether the scrimmage signals future regular-season meetings between these historic foes. But the impromptu get-together proved fan interest isn’t flagging. “Of course we would love to play them, but both sides would have to agree on something like that,” says first-year Mizzou Coach Cuonzo Martin. “You saw the energy behind it. We’ll see.”

Contributing to the grand total: A $40 online pay-per-view choice and a text-to-donate option during and after the game.

The storied Mizzou-Kansas basketball rivalry dates back to 1906 but ended in 2012 when the Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC. The tilt in K.C. was the first opportunity for incoming freshman Michael Porter Jr., one of the nation’s top recruits who committed to Mizzou in March, to participate in the nostalgic rite of passage.

“Kansas is an established program and a great team. It was a fun game,” says Porter, who led the Tigers with 21 points. “We are a very talented team, but if we keep working hard every day in practice, the sky is the limit.”