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Illinois 65, Missouri 64: Free throws and turnovers spoil Tigers' solid defensive effort

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Grrrr...

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Mizzou&amp;src=hash">#Mizzou</a> AAD Dave Reiter comes through. Official attendance was 21,987.</p>&mdash; Tod Palmer (@todpalmer) <a href="https://twitter.com/todpalmer/statuses/414580875175530496">December 22, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Illinois scored their last five points on scramble plays off defensive deflections. That blows.

1. Missouri's defense was pretty good

Give credit to Illinois. My impression was that they hit contested shots throughout the game. I didn't think they got many easy looks even before looking at the box score, and lo and behold the Tigers held Illinois to 50% True Shooting by my quick calculation. That is a pretty good day at the office on defense.

Illinois shoots 54.5% True Shooting on the season. The Illini hit some guarded shots and had 12 offensive boards. Missouri's inability to grab a few loose balls on deflections and rebounds will haunt them when they watch the film. Some may want to attach who-wants-it-more tough guy points to Missouri's inability to corral a couple 50-50 balls. I'm not really there. Balls bounce. Sometimes those benefit the other guy.

2. The turnovers/poor plays were the difference, but don't forget about early missed free throws

As is always the case in a one possession loss, you can point to a handful of unforced errors as the difference. I look forward to Study Hall on this game, but I was surprised to see in the box score that Missouri had "only" 14 turnovers to 11 for Illinois. It sure felt like Missouri kicked it around even worse than that. Add 12-18 from the free throw line, with lots of early misses that might have built a lead, and I walk away feeling like Missouri lost it more than Illinois won it. Of course, Illinois fans will disagree and feel they gave away a few recent Missouri wins.