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February 7, 2011

Border War Preview

Kansas coach Bill Self was not planning on freshman guard Josh Selby being ready Monday night when the second-ranked Jayhawks host No. 14 Missouri.

The 6-foot-2 Selby, Kansas' best 3-point shooter, has what is described as a stress reaction in his right foot.

After warming up, he decided not to play at Nebraska on Saturday. But in a vivid demonstration of the depth of the Jayhawks (21-1, 7-1 Big 12), senior Brady Morningstar had 19 points and six assists.

"Him not practicing today, and being off since Tuesday is not a great sign for a guy playing against a team like Missouri that gets after it like that," Self said Sunday. "Yesterday he still experienced a little bit of discomfort and tenderness. Maybe it's better 24 hours later but I'm not believing it's going to be to the point where I have total confidence putting him out there."

Self is not worried about Selby's problem becoming a long-term issue so long as he doesn't come back too soon.

"I would rather lose him for two games now rather than lose him for 4 or 5 weeks. Our doctors are confident this thing is calming down. they think he's much better than what he was. They think he'll be even better given just a little more time."

Both teams are coming off impressive wins. The Jayhawks dominated Nebraska 86-66, handing the Huskers their first loss in 15 home games. Missouri (18-5, 4-4) had five players in double figures in an 89-73 home victory over Colorado, which had 23 turnovers.

All season, the Tigers have had trouble winning on the road. For more than a decade, they've had problems winning at Kansas. The Jayhawks have an 11-game winning streak against their archrivals in Allen Fieldhouse.

"Every game is a big game. It's huge because the next game on our schedule is big because it's an obvious rival," said Missouri's Kim English, who had 21 points against Colorado. "Streaks don't mean too much. We don't go into any game expecting to lose. They put their shoes on just like us."

English enjoys Allen Fieldhouse, where the Tigers are 14-40 all-time.

"Other than Mizzou Arena, it's my favorite place to play," he said. "Great atmosphere, an exciting game. It's definite for 40 minutes."

Kansas' Morris twins worried Missouri coach Mike Anderson more than the atmosphere in Allen Fieldhouse. Becoming more and more dominant inside, the hulking duo is a major reason Kansas leads the nation in shooting at 52 percent from the field.

"No question about it - they have two of the better forwards in the country," Anderson said. "They're playing awful well right now. We want to be unpredictable. We have to match the physicality of the game and hopefully we'll get guys contributing off the bench in a big way."

Kansas' biggest challenge could be stopping guard Marcus Denmon, who has scored in double figures in 19 of the last 20 games.

"He's really matured into a really, really good college player," Self said. "For sure a first-team all-leaguer and the most improved player in our league. He's a model of consistency, which is something every team needs."



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