Journal-World Sports Editor
Columbia, Mo. -- Often Missouri compliments dribble like slow-melting icicles after MU-Kansas basketball games.
Not Monday night. Not after Missouri suffered a stunning 73-61 loss to Kansas at the Hearnes Center.
"Kansas played real well," MU coach Norm Stewart said. "I would suppose Roy would say it was one of their better ball games. They really played well."
Man mountain center Monte Hardge joined the chorus.
"They came out ready to play and put it on us," said the 335-pound Hardge. "They're a good team and they put it on us. They hadn't won here in awhile and I think they really, really wanted it. They got up on us and we couldn't get back."
Soph guard Brian Grawer knew who wanted it the most. Grawer had nothing but good things to say about Ryan Robertson, the Kansas senior guard who endured four straight years of Hearnes Center boos before gaining redemption.
"Boy, he played great," said Grawer, like Robertson, who calls St. Louis home. "He lost his first three times here and he battled the whole game. He wanted to win badly."
Once they were done tossing orchids at the Jayhawks, the Tigers tried -- without success, really -- to explain how they shot an unthinkable 16.1 percent (5 of 31) in the first half.
"We missed a lot of easy shots / good shots and we missed 'em all," Stewart said. "That 16 percent. I'd say that's an all-time low for us for a half, particularly at home."
Stewart credited Kansas' defense, notably a 1-3-1 zone that, for the most part, had the Tigers running in circles.
"I think that zone defense bothered us," Stewart said. "We had some young guys who didn't seem to recognize where they needed to be. We had trouble catching the ball, too. That's part of it."
Even Hardge, a fifth-year senior, said he had trouble with the Jayhawks' zone.
"For awhile it was hard to figure out what zone it was," Hardge said. "It bothered us a little bit."
Mainly, though, the Tigers simply had their sights misaligned. They couldn't hit the ocean from the USS Missouri.
"I wish I knew what caused it," Stewart said. "We did a great job defensively, I thought, but other than that /"
Grawer, who scored eight points -- including a couple of three-pointers, couldn't fathom that dreadful first-half shooting, either.
"We got good shots," Grawer said. "We forced maybe a couple. It was just one of those days when it wouldn't fall."
Albert White, MU's leading scorer at 17.9 points a game, scored nine points, all in the second half.
"They did a great job of denying Albert the ball," Grawer said. "That had a lot to do with our 16 percent shooting."
Missouri shot 48.6 percent (18 for 37) in the second half and scored 46 points. Mizzou inched to within six points a couple of times, but no closer.
"We took ourselves out in the first half," Stewart said. "But we came out the second half and made a run, played hard. We got it to six, but we needed to shake it out one more time and we couldn't."
Again, Missouri players kept harking back to that dismal first half.
"We dug a pretty deep hole," White said. "Against a team like Kansas, you can't do that."
Missouri will come to Allen Fieldhouse in less than two weeks.
Asked if the short turnaround concerned him, Stewart replied: "It always concerns you when you play a good ball club, and Kansas is a good ball club. They usually are."
-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is email@example.com.