St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - For the first time in five years, Illinois
has bragging rights over Missouri.
It came with the added bonus of ending the Tigers' unbeaten season.
Tracy Abrams scored 22 points, the last two on a pair of foul shots with 4.6
seconds remaining that lifted Illinois to a 65-64 win over No. 23 Missouri in
the Braggin' Rights game on Saturday.
In a thrill-a-possession finish at Scottrade Center, Missouri took the lead
twice on 3-pointers by Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown and Jon Ekey drained a 3
that moved Illinois in front.
On the play that led to the winning points, Abrams lost the ball out of bounds
on a spin move in the lane but was fouled by Johnathan Williams, sending him
to the line.
Missouri botched the inbound pass after Abrams' foul shots -- it hit Jordan
Clarkson -- but Tony Criswell picked the ball up, missing a long 3-point try
just over midcourt at the buzzer.
The Illini (10-2) snapped a four-game losing streak in the rivalry and handed
the Tigers (10-1) their first loss of the season. Clarkson led Missouri with
25 points and eight assists, Ross scored 13 and Jabari Brown added 10 points.
"A hard-fought, high-level game," said Missouri coach Frank Haith. "I thought
our guys competed. It was a very, very physical ballgame particularly there in
the second half, but we came up short."
Illinois, coming off a loss to No. 13 Oregon last Saturday, had a 59-56 lead
with under three minutes to play but Missouri scored the next five, including
Ross' 3 from the right corner with 1:54 left after Williams blocked Rayvonte
After Abrams missed a 3 at the other end, Clarkson dribbled the ball out of
bounds to return possession to Illinois. Ekey then knocked down a 3-pointer
from the high left side for a 62-61 Illinois lead with 47 seconds left.
Ross missed a tough driving layup for Missouri and Rice made 1-of-2 at the
line to push Illinois' lead to two points. It was erased when Brown swished a
3 from the right side to make it 64-63 Missouri with 15 ticks on the clock
before Abrams' foul shots.
Earlier, Missouri opened the game with an 8-0 run on the strength of 3s by
Clarkson and Brown. The Tigers were 8-of-17 from beyond the arc in the game.
Illinois used a 15-3 run later on to take a three-point lead and was ahead
31-27 at halftime.
Missouri had the biggest lead of the second half, seven points after a 9-1
spurt sparked by a Brown 3. Illinois responded with a 9-0 run to take the
Rice scored 14 for Illinois ... The Tigers were trying to go 11-0 for the
second time in three seasons ... Next Saturday, Missouri plays at North
Carolina State and Illinois is at Illinois-Chicago ... The Tigers started the
2011-12 season 14-0.