University of Kansas

Game on: KU, Mizzou agree to six-year resumption of men’s basketball rivalry

Kansas and Missouri will reignite the Border War rivalry in men’s basketball.

The rivalry, which went on hiatus in 2012, will resume in the 2020-21 season with a six-game series. Two games will be played at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, two at Mizzou Arena in Columbia and two at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.

The first matchup is slated for Dec. 12, 2020 at Sprint. The next four games will alternate between Allen Fieldhouse and Mizzou Arena, dates to be announced, with the final game scheduled for Dec. 13, 2025 at Sprint.

Until 2012, the KU-MU series was known as the longest continuous rivalry west of the Mississippi River. The Jayhawks lead the all-time series 174-95. KU had refused to play Mizzou after the Tigers left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, though the teams played one charity exhibition game at Sprint in 2017.

KU athletic director Jeff Long said the resumption of the basketball series is a “first step” toward resuming games against Mizzou in other sports.

“One of the best aspects of college athletics is rivalries, and we are thrilled that our fans and student-athletes will get to experience this Border Showdown rivalry once-again,” Long said. “We have quietly sought input from fans and supporters on the renewal of this series and we believe the overriding sentiments are that this historic rivalry should resume.

“While this series does not include each of our sports teams competing in the Border Showdown at this stage, we feel this is the first step to expanding it in the future.”

Mizzou athletic director Jim Sterk would like to see that as well.

“Hopefully, this renewal on the hardwood will lead to more opportunities (to play Kansas) down the road in other sports, too,” Sterk said. “Rivalries make college sports great, and there is no question that when Missouri and Kansas face off in any sport, it’s important to a lot of people.”

KU coach Bill Self has steadfastly been against the resumption of the Border War since MU left the Big 12. Now he’s ready to play again.

“Jeff and I discussed the idea of playing Missouri on many occasions, including speaking with other coaches here at KU, and we all felt the timing is right to renew the rivalry,” Self said. “Even though we haven’t played the last few years, I know it was something our players and fans missed, and so did I. The interest generated in the 2017 exhibition game was far greater than I envisioned it would be which made it obvious to me that our fans were eager to see a Border Showdown matchup.

“Having coached a lot of games vs. Missouri in my time here at Kansas, I could not be more excited to start this series up again. This is a great experience for all basketball fans and I look forward to the rivalry being reignited in Kansas City next season, and then bringing it back home to Allen Fieldhouse the following year.”

Later, in an interview with The Star, Self said: “You could say I got the seven year itch.”

Noted Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin, who has been in favor of resuming the rivalry: “This is a tremendous opportunity for both programs to bring back one of college basketball’s best rivalries. I’m excited for our guys, our university and our fans, and we look forward to the battles ahead.”

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Gary Bedore covers all aspects of Kansas basketball for The Star — the current team as well as former players and coaches and recruiting. He attended KU and was born and raised in Chicago, as well as Lisle, Ill.