COLUMBIA, Missouri (Ticker) - Missouri capped a turmoil-ridden regular season by denying Kansas the outright Big 12 Conference title.
Thomas Gardner scored a career-high 23 points and Jimmy McKinney added 21 as the Tigers upset the seventh-ranked Jayhawks, 72-68, to stay alive for a possible National Invitation Tournament berth.
"We have made the Big 12 tournament tougher on ourselves now," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "If we are fortunate to get by Kansas State or Texas A&M, which won't be easy, we are going to have a very tough road to win the tournament."
Fans stormed the court at Mizzou Arena after Missouri snapped a four-game losing streak against its conference rival.
"Obviously that was a great win for our club, in particular the way that we did it," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "We talked all year long about our defensive identity. I think that's where we won the game. Kansas is a great team."
Missouri (15-15, 7-9 Big 12) is facing an NCAA investigation after former player Ricky Clemons accused an assistant coach of paying him.
Missouri played Sunday without fifth-leading scorer Jason Horton, who was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team.
Kansas, which settled for a share of the Big 12 regular-season crown with Oklahoma, rallied from a 15-point deficit early in the second half to tie the contest at 64-64 on J.R. Giddens' 3-pointer with 3:23 remaining.
But McKinney hit a leaner in the lane and Gardner dunked off a feed from McKinney to give the Tigers a 68-64 lead with 1:19 remaining.
"Coach Q has been telling me to just go out there and shoot the ball and have fun and be comfortable and attack," McKinney said. "That's how I played today. I was just in attack mode, but I also wanted to get my teammates the ball."
After the Jayhawks (22-5, 12-4) closed to 71-68 on Gidden's layup with 3.8 seconds left, Linas Kleiza hit 1-of-2 from the line to clinch the win. Kleiza added 15 points, making 12-of-18 free throws, also also grabbed 14 rebounds.
"This is the team we really wanted to be all season," Gardner said. "I wouldn't say that we have figured it out right now. This is just one game, it's a step for us."
Wayne Simien scored 17 points for the Jayhawks, who have dropped four of their last six games.
Keith Langford, Kansas' second-leading scorer, suffered a sprained ankle early in the first half and was limited to five points in just three minutes - 10 below his average.
"Today was a good win for us, not just because of the atmosphere and the fans," McKinney added. "It was a big lift for us because we're going into the Big 12 tournament with a lot of confidence and a lot of desire and a belief that we can win."
Missouri made 8-of-10 3-pointers in the first half to open a 43-34 lead at the intermission, then build its lead to 49-34. But the Tigers missed all eight of their 3-point attempts in the second half, allowing the Jayhawks to climb back into the game.
Missouri shot 46.5 percent (20-of-43) overall while holding Kansas to just 41 percent (23-of-56).