LAWRENCE, Kan. - If it weren't for Missouri, top-ranked Kansas would be working on a perfect season. The No. 2 Tigers beat the Jayhawks for the second time this season - Kansas' only losses in 26 games.
The Tigers' 77-71 victory Tuesday night was also the second time Missouri beat Kansas when the Jayhawks had the No. 1 ranking.
"It wasn't different this time," said Anthony Peeler, who led the Tigers with 22 points. "The big difference for us right now is the Big Eight title and beyond. One-two is up in the air right now. That's for other people to decide."
Missouri (23-2, 9-1) is making it a lot easier.
The Tigers beat Kansas (24-2, 7-2) 95-87 on Jan. 20 with a dominant inside attack. This time, they relied on strong outside shooting and some solid defense.
"They are a great team," Kansas coach Roy Williams said of Missouri, which snapped the Jayhawks' 14-game home winning streak. "They hit inside, outside. They rebound the heck out of it and they play defense. You better be ready to play them and get lucky and hope they don't shoot the ball well."
Missouri, which held the No. 1 spot for three weeks after beating Kansas last time, shot 55.1 percent for the game (27-for-49), while the Jayhawks managed just 43.9 (29-66).
"We weren't sharp and the ball didn't go in the basket," Williams said.
Missouri coach Norm Stewart had a good reason for that.
"I thought our defense was very good at times as well as our rebounding," he said. "It was a great win and a tough, gutty performance."
This was the first matchup of Nos. 1-2 since top-ranked North Carolina beat Georgia Tech 78-77 on Feb. 4, 1986, and that was also a road victory. Williams was a member of Dean Smith's coaching staff in the game.
Kansas had rallied from a 63-53 deficit to tie the score at 64-64 with 5:33 to play. The Jayhawks used their bench and scored inside, where the Tigers usually dominate.
Peeler, who leads the Tigers at 18.7 points per game, broke the tie for good when he scored on an offensive rebound with 4:58 left. The play followed a timeout called by an obviously upset Stewart.
"We started standing around on offense, that's all," Stewart said. "Then our defense helped and we started rebounding better."
Doug Smith, the Tigers' second-leading scorer at 18.6, then made two free throws - just his second and third points of the half - and Missouri was on a 9-2 run which put the game away.
Kansas did get within 73-71 on a three-pointer by Kevin Pritchard with 1:09 to play, but freshman Travis Ford then made two free throws and Peeler added two more for the final margin.
"Our defense took over and we hit our free throws at the end," Peeler said.
Nathan Buntin added 16 points for Missouri, which lost the No. 1 ranking this week after losing to Kansas State last Thursday, while John McIntyre had 15 and Smith 12.