Missouri loses third-straight Braggin’ Rights game to Illinois

With Mizzou freshman Terrence Phillips and Kevin Puryear struggling, Clark’s 13-point second half performance brought the Tigers back in it.
The Mizzou Tigers and the Fighting Illini play an annual Braggin' Rights basketball game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis MO. With Illini's victory of 68-63 on Dec. 23, the Illini take an overall lead of 30 games to 16.

Until a jumper knocked down by junior guard Wes Clark with 15:50 remaining in the 35th annual “Braggin’ Rights” game against Illinois, the Missouri men’s basketball team struggled.

It took that bucket and another by Clark just a minute later to jumpstart a 15-0 run that cut the Illinois lead to five points with nine minutes remaining. Ultimately, though, after a scoring drought that spanned 9:27, the Fighting Illini pulled it together to defeat the Tigers, 68-63.

Mizzou coach Kim Anderson walked into the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on a chilly Wednesday night looking for payback after last year’s Illinois 62-59 buzzer-beater win. That chill seemed to create a cold start for the Tigers, though, as they missed their first four shots.

Illinois, led by coach John Groce — sporting an Illini-orange-colored suit — jumped out to an early 6-0 lead. The Tigers fought back, reclaimed the lead and held it for a bulk of the first half until Fighting Illini juniors Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn sparked a quick 10-0 run leading to a 41-27 lead at the half.

In the second, though, Clark got hot.

With Mizzou freshman Terrence Phillips and Kevin Puryear struggling, Clark’s 13-point second half performance brought the Tigers back in it.

The fans in black and gold were on their feet cheering and hoping this would be the first Mizzou team to knock off their rival in two years.

As Illinois’ lead shrunk, Mizzou cheers intensified, but Hill and Nunn were too much.

This comes as the third-straight non-conference loss to a Power Five team (the others to Arizona and NC State), and a similar slide last year — to Xavier, Illinois and Oklahoma State — seemed to derail the Tigers’ season.

Anderson and Missouri look to get back in the winning column Dec. 29 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Jan. 2 against Savannah State at Mizzou Arena before conference play begins at Georgia on Jan. 6.

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