To players, coaches, alumni and fans, Kansas-Missouri is more than just a basketball game.
"It is larger than life," Missouri sophomore center Arthur Johnson says.
So large, so intense, so competitive is the series it's been dubbed the "Border War" throughout the years.
"It does feel like a war when we go out there," said Kansas general Roy Williams, 15-12 overall against Missouri 2-2 versus Mizzou commander Quin Snyder.
Overall, the Jayhawks have won 153 skirmishes and dropped 90 in a series that dates to 1907.
The teams, however, have split the regular-season series the past six seasons.
"The history of it sort of gets all the blood stirring because of the alumni, because the rivalry has been around such a long time," Williams indicated.
He knew little to nothing of the rivalry when he took over for Larry Brown at KU 14 seasons ago.
"When I walked out at Columbia my first year, the intensity that people showed, the comments I got before the game and after the game ... we lost my first four games to them and then won six in a row after that. That sort of saved me. They would have lynched me up if it hadn't been for that," Williams said of KU fans.
He was joking, but the series has been no laughing matter.
Here are recollections of a flock of Jayhawks and one ex- Missouri player with a Kansas connection regarding past KU-MU battles. The two teams will tangle at 8:05 tonight at Allen Fieldhouse.
Patrick Richey, KU forward, 1991-94, now sales rep in electrical industry in Kansas City: "I can remember Jevon Crudup jumping on my back, basically tackling me while I was going in for a layup," said Richey, who went 6-2 against Missouri.
"My dad wanted to run on the floor and protect me. It kind of shocked me, but when you get in a game like that, there's what I call the 'no layup rule.' Nobody's going to give up a layup."
Pride oozes as Richey remembers winning three times at MU's Hearnes Center.
"During my freshman year, we were struggling. Coach Williams pulled the starters like he's done many times and put in me, Steve Woodberry and Richard Scott. We were able to get it back in single digits. We came back and won that game (74-70 in 1990-91)."
A Lee's Summit, Mo., native, Richey received harsh treatment during games at MU.
"Put it this way, I don't necessarily hate the players. I have a strong dislike for the Antlers," Richey said of MU's cheering section. "They can become classless and tasteless. Being from Missouri, I was expected to go to a Missouri school. They were hard on me."
Mark Randall, KU forward, 1987-91, now NBA scout for Denver Nuggets: "There are a lot of feelings that go into that game," said Randall, who went 5-6 versus MU during his five years at KU. Remember he sat out the 1988 national championship season after undergoing surgery on his jaw.
"My best memory is the frickin' Antlers ... how they get our phone numbers and information on us is unbelievable. I mean our numbers were not listed, but they'd get them and would call us at our homes a week before the game ribbing us.
"I remember the year after I had surgery on my jaw, we were staying at the Holiday Inn in Columbia," Randall explained. "There was a knock on my door at 2:30 in the morning. I opened the door and there was a jawbreaker pizza sitting there.
"I thought it was clever, but not at 2:30 in the morning the day of a game."
Randall does not like the atmosphere at the KU-MU game in Columbia.
"I have a bad taste about the rivalry now," Randall said. "I came down as a scout last year and sat in the stands for the KU game. I thought the fans were brutal. I'd go so far and say classless. I almost got in three fistfights. They were still yelling at me in the corridors as I was going to my seat. I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me. I played 12 years ago.' They don't forget down there.
"I was supposed to go back to scout another game at MU and I asked my boss if I could get out of the game. I told my boss, 'I don't want to deal with that crap again.'''
Chris Piper, KU forward 1985-88, now Big 12 broadcaster and president of Grandstand in Lawrence, a company that sells apparel and promotional items: "I just remember it always being a battle. I remember them playing us better than anybody else," said Piper, who went 6-3 versus MU. "Obviously it's changed since Norm's (Stewart) not there. I don't think Quin puts the same focus on the game as Norm did, but their fans still hate us."
Piper said Missouri fans do not heckle him when he's in town broadcasting Tiger games.
"No, I don't hear anything, which is surprising. Then again it's been 14 years. Actually the only person that gives me trouble is Jon Sundvold (broadcaster and ex-Tiger). I remind him of the number of Final Fours they've been to zero," Piper needled.
Piper played for Brown on KU's 1988 title team.
"I think for coach Brown it was the game he wanted to win more than any game. He was so competitive with Norm," Piper said.
"When we play Missouri, I fully expect Missouri to have its best game of the season. They will hit shots they haven't hit in a month. The games I've seen Missouri play they haven't played as hard as they need to. That won't be a problem against KU."
Terry Nooner, KU guard, 1997-2000, who will graduate from KU in May in sports administration: "There's a guy in Columbia we call 'Scarf Man,''' said Nooner, who went 5-4 versus the Tigers.
"He sat right behind the basket. He'd have this yellow and black scarf that he'd throw out right when we were shooting free throws. We'd yell at him and tell him to stop. He's still there. I saw him on TV. He's got the exact same seat right behind the basket."
The flashiest play that stands out in Nooner's mind was executed by a Tiger, not a Jayhawk.
"On my Senior Day, Keyon Dooling jumped over Ashante (Johnson) and dunked on him. Man, that was one of the best plays I've ever seen and they called it a charge. The officials weren't going to call it against us on Senior Day. We talked on Ashante bad in the locker room. We knew it was a dunk. We still talk about that to this day."
A native of Raytown, Mo., Nooner is no fan of the Tigers.
"I remember sitting on the end of the bench and getting in arguments with their fans at Hearnes. Since I never played, they'd get mad when I stood up. They'd cuss and tell me to sit down or get in the game. As soon as we'd get the lead, I'd say stuff back at them. They have no class. I'm from Missouri and I'll tell you they have no class," Nooner said.
Jerod Haase, guard 1995-97, now administrative aide on Williams' staff: "We always got everybody's best shot, but with Missouri we knew it was one of the few rivalries where it would go to the next level," said Haase who went 5-2 versus MU.
"The best win was my senior year in the Big 12 Tournament. We annihilated them and kept them out of the postseason," Haase said of an 87-60 victory in the Big 12 finals at Kemper Arena.
KU has some spirited battles with the Tigers during Haase's years. One year, it appeared Tiger Jason Sutherland deliberately grabbed at Haase's injured wrist.
"I think they did from time to time," Haase said of MU players trying to tug at his wrist. "I never enjoyed the comparison of Jason Sutherland and myself. Our styles of play were similar. Our motivation was not always the same."
Haase remembers Stewart criticizing fiery Jayhawk guard Haase in the papers.
"He said I had 'shenanigans.' I never knew what that meant," Haase said. "That's like coach Patton (Ricardo, Colorado) saying Kansas had 'extracurricular' going on. I don't know if it's a compliment or not or what it means."
Jerry Waugh: Played for KU's Phog Allen from 1948-51 and was an assistant for Dick Harp from 1957-60:
"The thing I recall about Missouri was that 'Doc' Allen didn't like 'em any," Waugh said. "In the four years I was here with 'Doc,' he would relate the story about his team of 1923.
"They went to Columbia by bus, the bus breaks down, it's snowing and they trudge so many miles, finally get a ride into Columbia. They are playing Missouri for the championship. Paul Endacott has a great game he plays to exhaustion and KU wins it.
'Doc' always talked about that team and that game. So when we played, someone would say, 'Team of 23.' Someone else would yell, 'That's the spirit.' We kind of had that as a battle cry joking with 'Doc' about the team of '23.
"As players, we had a great dislike for Missouri," Waugh added. "No matter what, there was going to be some kind of flare-up between players. (Jayhawks) Bill Bridges and Wayne Hightower, in '59 or '60 had a big fracas over there with some Missouri players.
"There was always that feeling Missouri played dirty. You don't know if that's true, but that's how we felt. You'd run down the court, a Missouri player would kick your foot and trip you. They'd kick it where it goes behind your leg and you'd go down hard."
Lafayette Norwood, KU assistant coach 1978-81, now golf coach at Johnson County Community College: "Missouri ... the only thing is those Antlers were something else," said Norwood, who had an 8-3 record versus the Tigers. "They always met us when we came off the bus and they were there to kind of harass us. I can remember we had a player named Art Housey, who was a blackbelt or close to it.
"We got off the bus. Ted (Owens, head coach) got off first, then a couple fellas. Twenty or so Antlers were taunting us. All of a sudden Art Housey stepped off the bus. He took off his glasses and they took off running."
Of MU's Stewart, Norwood recalled: "He got along with Ted. I think everybody did. Norm wouldn't come out and do anything malicious during games, but he'd always make comments. Actually then K-State was a bigger rivalry than Missouri."
Greg Gurley, guard 1992-95, now sales rep for Prairie Graphics in Lawrence: "I think it was my sophomore year in Columbia I set a pick and basically got punched in the mouth by Lamont Frazier," said Gurley, who had a 6-2 mark versus MU. "They called a foul on me. It was probably the worst call in the history of college basketball.
"It was one of the weirdest plays. I got hit so hard my hands flew up in the air and it looked like I pushed him. That summer I went to the dentist and a quarter of one of my teeth was gone. He said, 'Did you get in a fight?' I said, 'I got punched in a game.'
"I know for a fact coach Williams did something with that tape. He sent it to the Big Eight office. It was as blatant as you can possibly get."
Gurley knows a lot of ex-Tigers.
"I've played in the summer with Jevon Crudup. He's a great guy. A lot of their guys are good guys. It's not like we hate each other. I've played with Anthony Peeler growing up. He's a nice guy. On the floor you are nobody's buddy. It's the way it should be."
Gurley's relationship with coach Stewart? "Norm pretty much would yell at some opposing players, would yell at the refs and looked mad all the time. We got to the point, 'Go ahead and yell at the refs and players. You are doing everything but coaching the game.'''
C.B. McGrath, guard, 1995-98, now administrative aide on Williams' KU staff: "I'd say they were our biggest rival. They actually beat us three straight years at their place, all in games decided in the last minute, the last few seconds," said McGrath, who went 6-3 versus MU, winning in Columbia his freshman season, then dropping three straight.
"Personally I remember I made a steal and we went on a late 6-0 run to sort of put the game away at our 100 Year Anniversary game," McGrath said of KU's 80-70 victory during McGrath's senior year. "That was a big win. There were so many people, so many big names back for the reunion, we did not want to lose that game."
McGrath remembers an incident in which MU's Derek Grimm appeared to swing at KU's Raef LaFrentz.
"I remember when Grimm tried to tear Raef's head off when they went after a loose ball," McGrath said. "It was always a physical game."
Mike Maddox, forward 1988-91, now president of INTRUST Bank in Lawrence: "It was always the best game of the year," Maddox said.
"When I was in the school, Missouri was typically ranked in the Top 10. We had some great battles. We were No. 1 and they were No. 2 in the fieldhouse in 1990. They ended up beating us (77-71). It was as intense a crowd as I played in front of. It was a great game and a great setting for college basketball."
Maddox went 4-4 versus Mizzou.
"It was always physical. I remember one time Crudup got in Patrick Richey's face. It was always a great game and both teams played extremely hard. Peeler, Doug Smith and Derrick Chievous were there when I was there. They had some good players."
Of the Antlers, he said: "I enjoyed the Antlers. They were creative and generally pretty good natured toward me."
Ray Carey, Missouri forward, 1961-64, father of KU's Jeff Carey and representative for manufacturing company in Missouri: "It was intense," said Carey, who went 5-2 versus Kansas. "My freshman year, when freshmen could not play on the varsity, the final game of the season was in Columbia.
"Kansas came in No. 1 in the nation. They came to Columbia and a heckuva fight broke out between Charlie Henke (MU) and Wayne Hightower (KU) and the stands emptied. The floor filled up with people. It was quite an embarrassment for both schools because the game was on national TV and there weren't a heck of a lot of those (national TV games) in those days. Missouri actually ended up winning that game, beating No. 1."
Carey was not at the game, having headed home that weekend.
He was on the court his junior year when another fight broke out, this time at Allen Fieldhouse.
"Ken Doughty of Missouri said something to Nolen Ellison and Nolen went after him," Carey said. "Then Al Correll (of KU) and another Missouri player got into it. I was standing under the bucket and looked into the stands and said to myself, 'If they (fans) come out of the stands, I'm climbing up on the rim.'''
No fans stormed the court.
"One time I was at a KU-MU football game in Columbia and a friend of mine stole a KU fan's sign and tore it up," Carey said. "A guy turned around and punched me in the eyebrow and opened up a good cut. My friend tore up the sign and I was the one who got hit. I never quite figured that one out."
Carey said MU fans are polite to him in Columbia, not holding it against him the fact his son attends KU.
"That's 40 years ago," he said of his playing days. "A lot of people who watched me then are dead."