ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Two days after an agonizing loss at home, Illinois had a chance to brag again.
Shaun Pruitt scored the go-ahead basket on a third-effort putback with 35 seconds to go and the Illini survived a wild finish to beat Missouri 59-58 on Saturday night in the annual Braggin' Rights game. Illinois lost at home in overtime to Miami of Ohio on Thursday."We've had a lot of close games, so it feels good to finally finish a game," Pruitt said. "We've been going through a lot of adversity, so beating a good quality team like this definitely feels good."Pruitt had 14 points and Trent Meacham 13 for Illinois (7-4), which has an eight-game winning streak in the annual holiday season neutral-site game. Illinois dominated at the start of both halves, scoring the game's first nine points and then running off seven straight after the break, although Missouri (8-4) recovered each time.Illinois sealed the victory by holding the Tigers scoreless in the final 2:56. Missouri missed several opportunities down the stretch."I guess we won't get a chance to brag this year," coach Mike Anderson said. "Illinois did a good job but I don't think down the stretch it was what Illinois did, it was what we did to ourselves."For Illinois coach Bruce Weber, escaping with a victory got rid of some of the sour taste left by the Miami of Ohio loss."You almost make yourself physically sick: the knot in your stomach, the headache, the tenseness in your neck," coach Bruce Weber said. "I hate to go through what we did but maybe it's going to help us in the long run. We've got to find out who we are and maybe this is one step forward."Leo Lyons had 15 points before fouling out with 1:36 to go for Missouri, which fumbled the game away at the finish for the second straight year. Keon Lawrence slipped and dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds as time expired, near the same spot where Stefhon Hannah turned it over with two seconds left in Illinois' 3-point victory last year."We had it right there at the end," forward DeMarre Carroll said. "Three empty possessions we can't take back. We've just got to learn from this."Missouri, which entered the game with a three-game winning streak, was undone by season-worst 34.5-percent shooting. Three of Missouri's losses have been by a combined seven points. The Tigers had by far their season low for scoring after entering the game with a Big 12-leading 84.5-point average.Hannah, held to a season-low eight points on 2-for-12 shooting, also had a shot blocked with 18.6 seconds to go. Darryl Butterfield fumbled a pass from Hannah near the basket with about 10 seconds left.Pruitt scored 10 of Illinois' first 19 points, then went without a point or shot for more than 25 minutes. Meacham was 4-for-4 with 11 points in the first half, topping his 10.6-point average, but missed all four shots the rest of the way.Carroll had 10 points and eight rebounds for Missouri, but was held to 2-for-10 shooting.The game drew near-sellout attendance of 21,941 in a game that is annually the hottest ticket in town. Seats were available up to tipoff but interest was down given that neither team was ranked for the second straight season and there were no marquee players. That also cut down on the usual celebrity sightings, with St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray, former Blues owner Bill Laurie, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel among the notables.Illinois scored the game's first nine points and opened the second half with seven straight to open the game's biggest lead at 43-33 with 16:25 to go.