Well, it looks like all the hype for last night's Border War was warranted.
As a student attending Missouri's last scheduled home game against Kansas, the hype leading up to the game was unlike anything I had experienced in my four years at the university. Talk to anyone else who has been around Mizzou hoops for longer than me, and you'll hear that it might have been the most hyped Kansas home game of all time.
Everything was setting up perfectly for a classic finish to one of the most heated rivalries in the history of college sports. College GameDay was in town and Missouri fans were experiencing some déjà vu from the Homecoming game in 2010 against No. 1 Oklahoma, the only other time that College GameDay came to Columbia.
That déjà vu continued through the end of the game, as the Tigers came out on top in dramatic fashion, 74-71, against the No. 8 Kansas Jayhawks, just like they did against OU on that October night.
The obvious big story to come out of last night was the back and forth game that featured All-American-type performances from Kansas' Thomas Robinson and Missouri's Marcus Denmon, but the game might have been decided by the most intense atmosphere that I've ever been a part of.
After the activities throughout the day on Saturday and in October 2010, it is clear Missouri fans certainly know how to perform on the national stage.
I've never been an arena so consistently loud. From half an hour before the game to half an hour after it, the place was buzzing with an energy that no Missouri basketball fan has ever experienced. Even when the Tigers went down 8 with only 2:30 to go, there were loud cries of desperation from the stands, fans willing their team on to victory.
Marcus Denmon answered the call of his fans with nine points on three straight possessions to turn the 8-point deficit into a lead the Tigers wouldn't relinquish.
Even with that offensive explosion from Denmon, Missouri still needed stops at the other end, and until the last 3 minutes, they weren't getting any.
The most crucial moment of the game was when Tyshawn Taylor stepped to the line for two free throws with an opportunity to turn a 1-point deficit into a 1-point lead.
A friend of mine had a decibel counter app on his phone, and during that fateful moment, the phone gave a 105 dB reading. That's comparable to the loudest that the Hearnes Center ever got, and Mizzou Arena certainly isn't set up in the same intimate way that Hearnes was.
During those free throws, the student section took a page from Chiefs fans at Arrowhead and began banging on the bleachers in front of them, causing the floor beneath us to literally shake. Everyone in that arena wanted nothing more than for Taylor to miss those free throws. The high rankings, possible deep tourney run and everything else surrounding this improbable season didn't mean anything anymore. It was just Missouri and Kansas.
The strategy obviously worked as Taylor, a 68% free throw shooter, missed both attempts badly.
Nowhere else have I seen so much pure euphoria as I did directly after the final horn sounded. Students and alumni alike lingered around the arena, and almost all stayed for the singing of the alma mater and activities afterward.
So cheers to you, Missouri fans. You earned this final home victory against Kansas just as much as each of the players did.