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Saturday, December 22, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Missouri 82, Illinois 73

By Scott Powers



ST. LOUIS -- A quick look at No. 12 Missouri’s 82-73 win against No. 10 Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game Saturday at the Scottrade Center.

Overview: Missouri has had Illinois’ numbers in recent years, and the Tigers continued that trend Saturday as they defeated the Illini for the fourth consecutive season in one of their more intense and physical rivalry games.

The Illini had been living by the 3-pointer through their first 12 wins, and they died by it against the Tigers. They connected on only 8 of their 32 3-point attempts. Illinois was shooting .386 from 3-point range heading into the game.

While Illinois struggled from deep, Missouri played to its two strengths -- point guard Phil Pressey and its size. Tigers big men Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi combined for 36 points and 24 rebounds. Pressey had trouble shooting, but he still dictated the pace and had a game-high 11 assists.

Turning point: Missouri wasn’t able to pull away from Illinois until the final minutes. The Tigers closed the game on a 10-3 run. Pressey and Jabari Brown combined for eight points in the run.

Key player: Pressey proved the theory that a player can influence a game without shooting well. He was 3-of-19 from the field and finished with 12 points. But he still was a difference-maker as he pushed the tempo and found open teammates.

Key stat: The Tigers outrebounded Illinois 58-35, including 22-14 on the offensive glass.

Miscellaneous: This was the third consecutive season both teams came into the game ranked. They were a combined 63-5 in the past three seasons leading up to the Braggin’ Rights games. ... Illinois junior guard Joseph Bertrand was 9-of-9 from the field in last season’s game and hit his first shot Saturday. He missed his next three. ... Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul scored a team-high 23 points and had five assists.

Up next: Illinois closes out its nonconference schedule by hosting Auburn at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 29. The Illini have lost their past two games in Chicago, falling to UNLV by 16 points last season and being upset by UIC the season before. ... Missouri has two more nonconference games remaining before beginning SEC play. The Tigers travel to UCLA on Dec. 28 and host Bucknell on Jan. 5.