ST. LOUIS – If this power-packed Missouri basketball team is going to be defeated, you have to keep scoring.
That was the judgment at halftime Tuesday night, when the rallying Tigers had reduced a stunning 40-19 UI lead to 42-28.
ST. LOUIS – Luther Head said he felt like a weight was lifted off his shoulders. And it looked like it on the court.
Head, Richard McBride and Aaron Spears all served four-game suspensions, apparently for their alleged involvement in an apartment break-in. But Illinois Dean of Students Bill Riley released a statement Tuesday saying, "We have fully investigated the situation, and any appropriate discipline has been handed out."
ST. LOUIS - A great game, among the best in the historic series. A thrilling finish. An important win for first-year coach Bruce Weber.
Too bad more people didn''t get to see it. Like 50,000 more.
ST. LOUIS – It is the game Illinois and Missouri fans want to win more than any other. It''s the game that makes the holidays terrific or tainted.
For fans, it''s The Big Game.
Bruce Weber''s Illini can''t save the Big Ten. - That''s a collective responsibility, and it is failing miserably. The Big Ten trailed at sixth among the nation''s major conferences last week, and that was before Indiana''s 39-point shellacking by Kentucky, Purdue''s loss at home to Southern Methodist, the latest collapse by Ohio State against Seton Hall, Northwestern''s 20-point failure against Illinois-Chicago and Michigan State''s fifth defeat (conqueror UCLA had just lost at home to UC Santa Barbara).
So Illinoisans are bracing themselves for tonight''s Braggin'' Rights showdown in St. Louis. Missouri''s scores don''t scare anybody – it tends to play down to its opponents – but its physiques do.
In one corner ... Wearing black and gold with a 4-1 record and a No. 11 national ranking, Quin Snyder''s Tigers .
And in the other corner ... Dressed in orange and blue with a 6-2 record and a No. 21 national ranking, Bruce Weber''s Illini.
CHAMPAIGN – In case he needed it, Bruce Weber got a crash course in the importance of the Braggin'' Rights game.
He heard about what beating Missouri meant to Illini fans. He was told that when asked, he should make it clear he understood the magnitude of the rivalry.
We asked our Web site readers what they thought of Bruce Weber''s comments last weekend about Bill Self''s ''funeral.'' Some responses: