For the primary time in what appeared like ages, the Braggin’ Rights Game turned related Saturday evening as 21,289 packed Scottrade Center to observe Missouri and Illinois flip again the clock and play a school basketball sport that mattered once more.
The crowd confirmed up, however not the Tigers. At least not early.
In the rivalry sport’s 37th version in St. Louis however first underneath new coaches, Mizzou’s Cuonzo Martin and Illinois’ Brad Underwood, Illinois stormed to a 20-point halftime lead then survived the Tigers’ greatest counterpunches within the second half, sufficient for a 70-64 victory, the Illini’s fifth straight within the sequence. Martin’s Tigers (10-Three) received inside 4 factors within the remaining minutes however by no means nearer.
Mizzou’s implosion began on the offensive finish as, as soon as once more, turnovers spoiled possessions in bunches. The Tigers performed their worst half of the season within the sport’s opening 20 minutes, turning the ball over 16 occasions on 35 possessions. Seven of these giveaways got here courtesy of level guards Blake Harris, Jordan Geist and Jordan Phillips. Martin’s staff dealt with the ball higher within the second half — simply 5 turnovers on 34 possessions — however the harm was achieved. On Tuesday, Mizzou survived a 21-turnover evening towards Stephen F. Austin’s relentless stress within the backcourt. But not this time.
Underwood coached three seasons at SFA and watched Tuesday’s sport intently to diagnose Mizzou’s vulnerabilities. His staff’s aim Saturday was to eradicate Mizzou’s touches within the paint, deny the wings and dismantle the Tigers’ offense. Mission achieved.
“Illinois just about denied all the things and made it tough to get into our offense,” Missouri guard Jordan Barnett stated. “We nonetheless have to determine the best way to handle the ball. … It appeared like we turned the ball over greater than we shot.”
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The Tigers shot simply eight of 24 within the first half and simply 2 of 10 from Three-point vary. Illinois ahead Leron Black and guard Trent Frazier outscored the Tigers within the opening half 23-22.
About the one poise Mizzou confirmed within the first half was the annual male-cheerleader-holds-up-the-female-cheerleader contest, gained once more by the Tigers’ contingent.
Frazier closed the half with back-to-back Three-pointers to ship the Illini (9-5) into the locker room with a 42-22 lead, their largest of the half. Matched towards heart Jeremiah Tilmon on a change, Frazier dribbled out the clock on the ultimate possession then sank a buzzer-beating Three from the wing to ignite the orange half of the gang.
“I’d prefer to say that was all the things I assumed it might be and just a little bit extra,” Underwood stated. “I used to be not anticipating a 20-point halftime lead understanding how good Missouri is.”
Playing in his first Braggin’ Rights Game, Harris supplied some fireworks to start out the second half with a steal at midcourt and transition dunk. But from the time his toes hit the ground, Harris went after Illinois’ Te’Jon Lucas, yapping on the Illinois guard till official Teddy Valentine slapped him with a technical foul only a minute into the half. Martin benched his freshman briefly however watched the rookie ignite Mizzou’s second-half comeback.
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Mizzou trimmed the deficit to 10 thrice earlier than the 12-minute media timeout. Meanwhile, Illinois missed its first eight pictures of the half. Mizzou lastly received inside single digits on three Barnett free throws, and Harris sliced the result in eight with two extra from the foul line. Two extra Kassius Robertson free throws made it 56-50. All the whereas, the Tigers couldn’t make a shot from the ground, going 7:43 between subject targets till Robertson’s Three-pointer with four:26 left shrank the lead again to seven.
With 2:07 left, Frazier delivered what appeared just like the knockout punch with a three-point play on a baseline drive and foul from Tilmon, however Tilmon’s putback with a minute left made it a six-point sport. Coming out of a timeout, Kevin Puryear sank a brief jumper with 26 seconds left, however Frazier answered on the opposite finish with a pair free throws. The Tigers had two appears from Three within the remaining seconds however missed each, extinguishing their rally for good and ending their 2017 with a well-recognized outcome.
Frazier led the Illini with 22 factors, together with 10 of 11 from the foul line. Robertson matched Frazier with 22, and Barnett added 19 in his homecoming sport.
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Barnett thought the sport’s raucous setting may need affected among the Tigers’ youthful gamers. Freshman ahead Jontay Porter turned the ball over 4 occasions and missed all 4 of his pictures. Geist didn’t depart the bench after a scoreless, four-turnover first half. Martin’s 5 reserves didn’t rating in a mixed 41 minutes.
“I feel among the guys could have been rattled for no matter motive,” Barnett stated. “The crowd could have had one thing to do with that. We simply can’t let that occur.”