Mizzou unable to overcome rough start in Barggin’ Rights Loss

Seth Pollock, 23 Sports

The Missouri basketball team traveled to the Scottrade Center Friday night in a matchup that saw two first year head coaches ushering in new eras for their respective programs getting their first crack at Braggin’ Rights, the annual game between Illinois and Missouri in St. Louis. Brad Underwood’s Illinois squad got off to the quick start and held on to beat Cuonzo Martin’s Missouri Tigers 70-64, giving the Illini their 5th straight Braggin’ Rights win.

Illinois got off to a steady start from the field while Missouri had trouble getting anything to go. Halfway through the first half the Illini had 19 points on eight field goals while the Tigers only had six points on two field goals. While Mizzou started to find some offensive rhythm near the end of the first half, the Illini kept outpacing them. The daggers of the half came in the final minute when Trent Frazier hit back to back threes to take the Illini lead from 36-22 to 42-22.

The Mizzou team that came out of the locker room for the second half looked much more ready to play. Kassius Robertson came out aggressive and made some buckets. Jordan Barnett was also aggressive and hit three key free throws when fouled on a three point attempt. Blake Harris was possibly too aggressive and got called for a technical after slamming home a dunk.

In the end, the comeback attempt was not enough as Illinois’ Trent Frazier made two free throws to ice it.

The star of the show for the Illini was Leron Black, who had 20 points and seven rebounds and was two for two from three. Mark Smith added on 11 points while Michael Finke had ten.

Many Tiger fans expected freshman Jeremiah Tilmon, a former East St. Louis, Illinois star who had originally committed to Illinois before the Illini fired John Groce, to have a big game. He scored seven, had seven rebounds, and largely avoided foul trouble, but struggled to be a force inside.

The win improved the Illini to 9-5 on the year, while the Tigers fell to 10-3. The Illini next play at home against Grand Canyon on December 30th, while Mizzou’s next contest is a road game at South Carolina on January 3rd to open up SEC play.