The Border War Reaches the Basketball Court: March 11, 1907

The 1907 University of Missouri Basketball team that played the Border War game.
The Missouri Tigers 1907 basketball squad that played the Border War game. • National Collegiate Athletic Association

The University of Missouri Tigers met the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team for the first time, beginning the basketball Border War. They played in Columbia and Missouri won 34–32. They played again the very next day and Missouri won 34–12.

The rivalry between the University of Missouri Tigers and the University of Kansas Jayhawks, known as the Border War, was one of the most storied and intense rivalries in college sports. Its origins date back to the pre-Civil War era, with the term “Border War” referring to the violent clashes between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the Kansas and Missouri border region. The Jayhawks of Kansas are even named for the anti-slavery guerrilla forces that were once based in the region.

Although the much friendlier sports rivalry arguably began on the gridiron In 1891 when the football teams faced each other for the first time, in the realm of college basketball, this rivalry has been marked by numerous memorable moments and fiercely contested games. Both schools have proud basketball traditions, but Kansas, as one of the sport’s bluebloods, has dominated the rivalry winning 175 of the 270 Border War meetings (don’t worry, Tigers fans, on the football field things are much more even—Mizzou has carried the day 56 times compared to Kansas’s 55 wins). The basketball rivalry reached its peak when both teams were members of the Big 12 Conference, where they would often meet in high-stakes games with conference implications.

One of the most notable moments in the basketball rivalry came in 2012, in what was then considered the final regular-season Border War meeting between the two teams before Missouri moved to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The game, played at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, saw the Jayhawks come back from a 19-point second-half deficit to win in overtime, adding another memorable chapter to the rivalry’s history.

Although the annual regular-season meetings between the two schools have ceased since Missouri’s departure from the Big 12, the rivalry still holds a special place in the hearts of fans and alumni. Occasional matchups in tournaments or special events continue to reignite the competitive spirit between the Tigers and Jayhawks, keeping the historic rivalry alive.