It’s that time of year! The biggest non-conference game on Missouri’s schedule is here, and the world of beat writers might be focusing on the same story line...
Did you know Missouri has three players on their roster who signed with Illinois? And one of them played for Illinois last year!
One of them is Javon Pickett, who got the feature treatment from Cam Teague-Robinson, who signed with Illinois in the 2017 class along with Jeremiah Tilmon before he was cut loose by the incoming staff.
The main story likely comes from Mark Smith, who has been downplaying the matchup as much as he can. Garrick Hodge had a column on Smith for the Trib, Alex Schiffer talked about Smith for the KC Star, So much has been made of Smith we’ve almost ignored the consistent storyline of what draws the Illinois’ fan ire, the presence of Jeremiah Tilmon.
Tilmon was the one player Illinois wanted, both staff and fans. Mark Smith was wanted, but there wasn’t much fuss put up when Smith said he was leaving, and only a moderate amount when he committed to Missouri. Javon Pickett was even further down the ladder. When he was cut loose by the staff, the word was Pickett was thought of more as a mid-major prospect. But I’d expect Tilmon and Smith to draw the majority of the boos.
Speaking of boos
There’s been more and more bad blood brewing over the last few years in a rivalry that’s usually been more friendly than heated, but Ben Fred writes: there’s nothing wrong with a little bad blood in a rivalry. To an extent I agree. I don’t want to see the MU-Illinois rivalry turn anywhere close to MU-KU. There’s a sickness which infects a lot of people when it comes to the Jayhawks, and in large part the rivalry with Illinois still feels mostly healthy.
On the plus side, the Mizzou Women marched into Champaign and whipped the Illini women pretty good.
A 67-45 victory looks great, but it was a MONSTER 3rd quarter where Mizzou went on a 24-5 run to turn a close game at halftime into an easy road win against a power conference opponent. The loss drops Illinois to 8-3, and Mizzou improves to 10-3. The Tigers were led by Amber Smith, but the surprise was the play of freshman Akira Levy who’s been getting better game-by-game and dropped 14 points in 18 minutes.
Yesterday at Rock M
- Caleb Love has been a big focus for the Tigers coaching staff, and Schiffer talked to Love and Justin Tatum about it.
- Tray Jackson is a bad man:
Tray Jackson (@_Tray_Jackson) just rose up with VIOLENT INTENTIONS, looked into the rim and unleashed hell here at @BasketBullhoops HoopFest.....The 6’9” @MizzouHoops signee has his @sunrisehoops squad in a 43-42 game at the half against Woodstock.... pic.twitter.com/fxhOBOfVrN— The Hustle (@TheHoopHustle) December 21, 2018
Watch this, and watch it again.
- Jeff Thomas announced on twitter he was committing to Illinois, the situation is sticky and Mizzou didn’t really need a wide receiver but Thomas has an eye on the NFL and may have to sit out a season. It will be interesting to watch if he even suits up for Illinois before declaring.