For the fourth straight year, bragging rights belong to the Missouri men's basketball team.
The No. 12 Tigers (10-1) triumphed over No. 10 Illinois (12-1) in a physical 82-73 victory in the 32nd meeting between the two rivals in front of a crowd of 21,933 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Senior forward Laurence Bowers scored a game-high 23 points for the Tigers, while adding 10 rebounds and 4 assists, yet the play of senior point guard Phil Pressey dominated the game from start to finish.
Pressey was the only Tiger on the court to have played for Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights game last season.
Going into the second half, Pressey was scoreless, shooting 0-8 from the field. He would finish the game scoring 12 points off 3-19 shooting, but made three crucial shots in the last five minutes of the game that would prove to be the difference.
Despite his slow start, Pressey finished with 12 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds, falling just three rebounds short of a triple double.
After leading 41-35 at the half, Missouri fell behind by 7 after Illinois guard Joseph Bertrand (13 points) hit a free throw to make the score 57-62 with 8:06 left in the game.
The Tigers then bounced back with a 13-2 run in the middle of the second half that would keep the game close until Pressy’s baseline assist to Bowers with 1:00 left in the game put the game out of reach for good, 75-70.
The game marked the first time since 2002, when 12th-ranked Illinois defeated 11th-ranked Missouri 85-70, that both teams had been ranked in the top 15 at the time of the Braggin’ Rights game.
Saturday’s game also marked the third consecutive season where both teams were ranked in the top 25 coming into the game. The loss for the Illini also meant the senior class went their entire college careers without beating Missouri in the rivalry game.
Missouri will next travel to California to play University of California-Los Angeles on Dec. 28.