FINAL: No. 12 Missouri 82, No. 10 Illinois 73
ST. LOUIS — Laurence Bowers had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 12 Missouri over No. 10 Illinois 82-73 in the annual Braggin’ Rights game on Saturday.
Alex Oriakhi added 13 points and 14 rebounds as Missouri (10-1) won its fourth straight in the 32-year-old series. Jabari Brown had 18 points and Phil Pressey handed out 11 assists.
Brandon Paul led Illinois (12-1) with 23 points. Tyler Griffey scored 14, Joseph Bertrand had 13 and Nnanna Egwu 12 for the Illini.
Missouri used a 9-0 run late in the game to take the lead for good at 70-64. Brown led the spurt with four points.
The Tigers held a 58-35 edge on the boards and outscored Illinois 44-24 in the paint.
Illinois, which leads the overall series 20-12, won nine meetings in a row from 2000-08.
More details on the way.
Griffey 5-8 0-0 14, Egwu 5-11 2-3 12, Richardson 3-13 0-0 7, Paul 5-18 11-14 23, Abrams 2-9 0-0 4, McLaurin 0-3 0-0 0, Bertrand 5-11 2-2 13, Henry 0-1 0-0 0, Langford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-74 15-19 73.
Bowers 10-20 2-3 23, Oriakhi 5-10 3-3 13, Pressey 3-19 6-6 12, Bell 0-0 1-2 1, Brown 5-10 5-6 18, Criswell 3-5 1-2 7, Webster-Chan 0-1 0-0 0, Ross 3-8 1-2 8. Totals 29-73 19-24 82.
Halftime—Missouri 41-35. 3-Point Goals—Illinois 8-32 (Griffey 4-7, Paul 2-8, Bertrand 1-4, Richardson 1-9, Henry 0-1, Abrams 0-3), Missouri 5-19 (Brown 3-7, Bowers 1-3, Ross 1-4, Webster-Chan 0-1, Pressey 0-4). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Illinois 35 (Egwu 9), Missouri 58 (Oriakhi 14). Assists—Illinois 10 (Paul 5), Missouri 16 (Pressey 11). Total Fouls—Illinois 21, Missouri 14. Technicals—McLaurin, Bowers. A—21,933.
No. 12 Missouri 52, No. 10 Illinois 51 — 10:48 second half
Alex Oriakhi is a monster. Not only is he huge, but he can really get up high off the ground. Any rebound he wants is his.
There wasn’t anyone within 10 feet of D.J. Richardson on his first three-point attempt of the half and he missed it. He’s struggling and now he’s tentative. That’s not good.
Laurence Bowers just in-bounded the ball right in front of me. Looks like he’s got wings tattooed all across his back.
Brandon Paul taking a lot of bad shots. He’s made some, though. Does that mean they’re not bad shots?
He just needs to keep going to the paint.
“Just keep fouling (Paul), he’s their only player!” a Mizzou fan behind me just yelled.
I’ll tell you what, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but these guys are fighting. They just can’t make a shot.
Tracy Abrams just stared down Alex Oriakhi as if he was the one with the 8-inch, 75-pound size advantage. Mercy.
Illinois hasn’t made anything other than a layup since D.J.’s 3-pointer to make it 25-21 in the first half.
They’ll start to make some outside shots, right?
No. 12 Missouri 41, No. 10 Illinois 35 — Halftime
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was shown on the video board. The Democrat wasn’t cheered like Tony La Russa. She was heartily booed. Seems lind of harsh.
Earnest Ross is really put together. Big, strong guard.
Just as I got on D.J. for his shooting, he finally made a three-pointer. It got the Illinois half of the building really excited.
Then Missouri big man Laurence Bowers answered with a triple of his own.
So much fun.
Paul is doing a great job of attacking the basket. The key for him will be getting to the line and making his free throws.
Tyler Griffey has made both his field goal attempts today. One of them was a three. He really needs to get back going.
Illinois won the contest where the male cheerleader s hold the female cheerleaders above their heads. Not sure what the stats are of that in relation to the actual game.
The Illini haven’t done a good job of getting bodies on the Missouri big guys on the defensive boards. That’s a recipe for disaster.
It’s been a rough rough first half for Tracy Abrams. The sophomore point guard has had some strong finishes of late, though.
Sam McLaurin and Alex Oriakhi got into it. Brandon Paul got the guys together to calm them down. That kind of chippiness is something that’s been missing from the rivalry. I’m good with it as long as it doesn’t turn ugly.
Of course Valentine gave Egwu a delay of game warning.
The Illini have no answer for the Tigers inside.
Bertrand took the ball to the bucket with 12 seconds left on the shot clock at the end of the half. Luckily for the Illini, Brandon Paul got a steal and layup at the buzzer. Instead of being down by 10, it’s a 6-point game.
Groce stopped Bertrand before entering the locker room and had a very calm conversation with him about it.
The Illini shot 10 for 33 (30 percent) in the half and 4 for 17 (23.5 percent) from long range.
Paul leads with 13 points. Egwu has six, Griffey has five. Illinois had four turnovers.
Missouri shot 15 for 35 (42.9 percent) and 5for 13 (38.5 percent) from three.
Bowers has 15 and Jabari Brown, playing his second game as a Tiger, has 11. Mizzou had 7 turnovers, leading to 10 Illinois points.
Missouri out-rebounded Illinois 25-16.
How’s the broadcast?
No. 10 Illinois 17, No. 12 Missouri 16 — 10:53 first half
Anyone surprised that there was a re-jump at the tip? Ted Valentine is doing the game. There’s your explanation.
Brandon Paul thought he was fouled on an early three-point shot that he air-balled. Of course, he heard it from the Mizzou fans.
His new Jordans look pretty sweet, though.
The ESPN camera man is blocking out view of the Illinois’ offensive possessions. Loren isn’t happy.
Big start for Nnanna Egwu. He had a dunk off a steal in the backcourt them got a nice tip in of a Tracy Abrams missed three. Then another dunk on a nice feed from Brandon Paul. He’s been playing really well of late. Maybe this is his coming-out party to the nation. We’ll see.
Brandon Paul’s back-to-back bad possessions resulted in a Missouri bucket and foul.
Tony La Russa was shown on the scoreboard a little bit ago. This place went nuts. I’d guess this place might be 70 percent Cardinals fans? One thing the two fan bases agree on.
Tony Criswell traveled two times on the same possession. The officials caught the second one.
On Brandon Paul’s long three, I said “That’s a bad shot” while it was in the air. He made it. What do I know?
D.J. Richardson is 0 for 4 from three. He's really off. Hasn't been very close.
No. 10 Illinois (12-0) vs. No. 12 Missouri (9-1) — Tipoff
Illinois signee Malcolm Hill, fresh off his 39-point performance last night in Belleville is here sitting under the basket near the Illinois bench. Michael Finke and Larry Austin Jr. are also down there with him.
Hill says he’s about 95 percent recovered from the procedure in which he had a rib removed. He said it took him a while to get back in playing shape. Hill’s coach told him to be more aggressive and to shoot more. So, he did. Some folks down here talking about his game last night say he could have had 50 if he remained aggressive as the game wore on.
Finke says he’s starting to get extra attention from opposing players now that he’s committed. Says he’s been getting more elbows and hooked down in the paint more. He understands it.
I’ll have more on those guys in tomorrow’s News-Gazette and on HQ.
This place is just about full. Looking forward to the excitement.
ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes says he’s never been here for this game. Says with the Kentucky-Indiana series no more, this is the best nonconference game between two programs from different states in college basketball.
Robert Archibald is here, too. The big guy from St. Louis says he hasn’t seen the Illini play in person since 2002 when they played at Memphis.
Ill be back midway through the half with an update.
No. 10 Illinois (12-0) vs. No. 12 Missouri (9-1) — 30 minutes before tipoff (ESPN2)
Bands from both teams are here, that adds to the environment. A few years ago, the Illinois band didn’t arrive until the game had started because an ice storm slowed their trip down I-57.
I saw members of Missouri’s band painting each other’s faces in the tunnel.
Recently retired Illinois director of sports medicine Al Martindale is here sitting right behind the Illini bench with his family.
Brandon Paul is wearing a new pair of shoes today. They’re the brightest of orange, you won’t miss him on TV.
St. Louis Post-Disatch columnist Brian Burwell joined us on the pregame show. Burwell says this is a basketball town, despite not having an NBA team. They love high school hoops here. He has no idea what to expect, but said St. louis folks like to say “Welcome to the Christmas pageant” when referring to this game.
Megan Little of the Scottrade Center told me there were about 160 credentials requested for this one. That’s slightly more than normal, according to her.
The game has been sold out for weeks. Illinois fans are coming in at a more rapid rate than Tigers folks.
Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa are expected to be in attendance. Herzog is a regular at this game.
I’ve heard Maggie O’Brien’s is the place to be for Illini fans tonight. Plenty are there right now getting lubed up for the game.
No. 10 Illinois (12-0) vs. No. 12 Missouri (9-1) — 60 minutes before tipoff (ESPN2)
Most of the Illini are now on the floor going through warm-ups. Looks like the Illini will be wearing orange today. Rod Cardinal, the czar of all things Illinois basketball, told us last week that Groce prefers to reserve the orange uniforms for special games. This certainly qualifies as a special game
After today, the Illini will head home for Christmas with their families and return to Champaign on Wednesday to prepare for next week’s game at the united Center in Chicago against Auburn. The Illini will be looking to end a three-game losing skid in the annual game in the Windy City. They should beat the Tigers.
They’ve also got about a month off from school. Groce, a former math teacher, loves this time of year. He can get the guys in the gym as long as he wants without the academic demands on the players.
“When it gets to where they have all ball, and they’ll have that here for a little while, I think that’s good,” he said. “It gives us a chance to lock in and teach and get better and identify things and hone in on them even more. We’ll certainly use that to our advantage.”
The new coach was asked earlier this week about there still being doubters of his team, despite the 12-0 record and the Top-10 ranking.
“It’s one of those things, some times you watch, people like good stories. They like to watch giants crash and David rise,” he said. “We’re just worried about getting better. We want to play well on Saturday, we want to execute our game plan. I don’t want to get caught up in that stuff because I can’t control it. As soon as you start worrying about things beyond your control you drive yourself crazy in this business, so I just refuse to do it.”
At the same time, he knows they’ve got things to clean up and they’ll use this break from school to address some concerns.
“I think that offensively, I’d like to see us continue to use ball movement and the pace at which we play, not only in transition, but half court. I’d like to see us moving at a quicker pace. We’ve talked a lot about that,” he said. “We’ve honed in on taking care of the basketball. The last couple of games, I think we had a couple of them that were unforced, not all of them, but we want to shore that up.
“Defensively, we’ve got to rebound better going forward, I think that’s important. Although we’ve done it well at times, I’d like to get more consistency in defending the three-point line, I think that’s important.”
No. 10 Illinois (12-0) vs. No. 12 Missouri (9-1) — 90 minutes before tipoff (ESPN2)
We’re back here at the Scottrade Center. Still no sign of players from either team yet.
There’s a pretty good buzz about this game in St. Louis. On the walk to the arena, there were basketball fans all over the place. McGuire’s, just a few blocks from the arena, was loaded with orange shirts. This game is always electric, but there’s a little something special in the buildup for this one. It’s the first time in 10 years that both teams entered the game ranked in the Top 15.
This will be Tyler Griffey’s last game playing the Braggin’ Rights game in his hometown. The native of nearby Wildwood, Mo., Has slumped with his shot lately, but his senior years couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.
His dad, Chris, told me earlier this week that when Tyler was in elementary and middle school, they would attend the KMOX High School Shootout in this building every year. Chris would help keep stats on the computer and young Tyler would run hard copies of the stats throughout the game to the media covering the event. He said they didn’t start attending the Braggin’ Rights game until Tyler was in high school and he got tickets from both Illinois and Missouri when the programs were recruiting Tyler.
“I’m sure he’s excited to go back home. What kid wouldn’t be?” Groce said this week. “They’re excited, who wouldn’t be? I mean, this is fun. The rivalry kind of embraces a lot of what college basketball is supposed to be about. When you grow up and you get the chance to play at such a special place like the University of Illinois, you dream of playing in special games like this. Tyler is very excited.”
Malcolm Hill, who recorded a double-double with 39 points in a win against Alton last night across the river on the Illinois side for Belleville East, told me earlier this week he would be here with his mom, Machanda.
Kendrick Nunn recorded a double-double last night for Simeon with 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists for the Wolverines in a win against Brooks. Teammate Jaylon Tate, another Illinois signee, had 11 points and six assists. Simeon is playing without Duke recruit Jabari Parker, who is out resting his injured foot.
The doors will open soon. It’ll be deafening in here before you know it.
The National Anthem soloist just practiced a rendition of rendition of Francis Scott Key’s tune. He was fantastic and the Scottrade Center ushers overtook him with a “BLUUUUUUUUUES!” at the end where it says “home of the brave.” They’re missing their hockey in this building.
I’m headed over to join Steve Kelly and Loren Tate on the Reudi Holder and Associates pregame show. I’ll check back in with you in a few.
No. 10 Illinois (12-0) vs. No. 12 Missouri (9-1) — 2 hours before tipoff (ESPN2)
Good afternoon, folks. Marcus Jackson joining you from courtside at the Scottrade Center for one of the more anticipated Braggin’ Rights matchups in recent years.
Saw a lot of folks zooming past me on I-57 this morning wearing orange clothing. Really looking forward to one of the best atmospheres in college basketball tonight.
Last I checked, the Tigers were about a 1.5-point favorite over the Illini. I’m not a gambler, but that basically means it’s a toss up.
I predicted a one-point Illini victory today. Check that out here, as well as some other things to watch out for tonight.
I asked fans for their predictions on my Twitter account today (@MarcusJ_NG). You’ll notice the sentiment leaned heavily toward an Illini win.
Wrote about the very organized John Groce today in The News-Gazette and on IlliniHQ. He hasn’t changed a bit, even though he’s on the verge of becoming the first Illinois coach to start his career at the school with a 13-0 record.
Entering today, there were eight unbeaten teams in college basketball. Illinois is the only one of those operating under a first-year coach.
We got a lot of feedback this week from former Illini who have played in this game. Check that out here. They also offered advice for Illinois’ first-year coach. He appreciated it.
“My wife (Allison) told me today in the newspaper a lot of people had advice, which is good,” Groce said. “She said it was really good. I typically don’t read in season, but she encouraged me. She said ‘I’m gonna leave it out for you when you get home.’ She thought it was pretty cool piece that was done today.”
Dave Fleming and Jimmy Dykes will team to call the game for you today. I’m going to check in with Dykes, one of the best analysts at ESPN, along with Stephen Bardo, Dan Dakich and Doris Burke.
Dykes had Brandon Paul as his top 2 guard in the country earlier this week. I’ll ask him about that.