Tigers win Braggin' Rights game for first time since 2012

3 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago Saturday, December 22 2018 Dec 22, 2018 Saturday, December 22, 2018 7:53:00 PM CST December 22, 2018 in Top Stories
By: Ethan Illers & Edward Redler, KOMU 8 Sports Reporters

ST. LOUIS - The Missouri Tigers defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini by a final score of 79-63 in the annual Braggin' Rights game. The win is Missouri's first over Illinois since 2012.

Mark Smith, Javon Pickett and Jeremiah Tilmon, all former Illini commits or players, each received loud boos once they were introduced in the Missouri starting lineup, with Smith receiving the loudest. Smith is the only player to suit up for both teams all-time.

The Tigers shot 52 percent from the field, compared to 41 percent for the Fighting Illini. The deep ball was also falling in favor of Missouri, shooting 52 percent from three-point territory. Illinois wasn't nearly as sharp from beyond the arc, shooting only 28 percent from three. 

Tilmon scored the first points for Missouri, as was the case last year. However, some sloppy play then followed for Missouri who would turn the ball over five times before the first media timeout. 

A Mark Smith three pointer, followed by a Xavier Pinson triple quieted the Fighting Illini crowd and Missouri found themselves down 12-10 at the first media timeout. 

Not much scoring would follow as Illinois led 15-10 at the second media timeout. 

Jordan Geist eventually lifted Tiger spirits with three straight three-pointers to give Missouri momentum and a 21-17 lead with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half. 

At the last media timeout, both teams were tied at 32. The physicality was on display as the Tigers and Fighting Illini combined for 19 personal fouls in the first half.

Missouri got its offense clicking with a 10-0 run late in the first half and took a 39-35 lead into halftime.

Illinois' Trent Frazier led all scorers with 17 first half points. 

The second half started with a Tilmon slam dunk, followed by a Kipper Nichols jump shot for Illinois. The score was 50-43 in favor of Missouri at the first media timeout. 

Jordan Geist was called for a blocking foul and asked to be taken out of the game with cramps, but soon re-entered.

Torrence Watson hit a much-needed three pointer for Missouri, which made the Tiger lead 53-46 with just over 14 minutes to play. The Tigers then entered a scoring drought that lasted just under three minutes, capped off by Watson missing two wide open three-pointers. 

Nonetheless, Missouri found themselves up 53-48 with 11:47 to play. A Geist layup ended a scoring drought that lasted three and a half minutes. 

Kevin Puryear missed two crucial free throws with Missouri up by one, 55-54. A Frazier jumper put Illinois up 56-55 and forced Missouri to call timeout with 7:34 to play. 

Tilmon then answered for Missouri with a layup and converted on the and-one opportunity. 

The Tigers never trailed again.

Javon Pickett drained a triple after Frazier missed the first free throw of a one-and-one to put Missouri up 63-56. Kevin Puryear added a triple to put Missouri up 68-58, part of a 17-2 run for the Tigers. 

A Geist three pointer was the dagger as Missouri won 79-63. He finished with a team-high 20 points.

Tilmon and Pickett each score 16 points, with Tilmon adding 12 rebounds, good for his second straight double-double. 

Up next for Missouri is a home game Friday against Morehead State, its last non-conference game. Tip off is at 1 p.m.

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