It’s been since 2013, when Laurence Bowers led the Tigers with 23 points, the last time Mizzou beat Illinois in the annual Bragging Rights game. Bowers has since retired from a professional career overseas, and the Tigers have hired two basketball coaches and endured five straight losses in this rivalry game.
Tonight Missouri won by 16 points, Javon Pickett had 16 points.
Picket, the forgotten member of the Illinois signing class in 2017, cut loose by Brad Underwood and his staff with little after thought, was the literal difference in the 2018 version of the Bragging Rights game.
Jeremiah Tilmon, fighting through a week long illness and a constant cascade of boos from Illinois fans, finished with 16 points... literally the difference between the two teams at the end of the game.
Most of the focus before the game was on Mark Smith because he was the victor in this game last season as a member of the Fighting Illini. Smith didn’t have his best night shooting, but still made a difference on the glass and stemmed an early Illini run with a big three pointer.
Overall the Illini-trio had 37 points in a game against their home state school, allowing Xavier Pinson an additional seven points to make the total contribution from players from the state of Illinois at 44 points. It was a big night for the foursome from Illinois, and their coach, raised in East St. Louis, IL.
Illinois had won five straight, but only one against Martin and his version of this team. There weren’t many players from last years game still on either roster. So for the losing streak, say good bye because it’s a new ball game with Missouri trending upward on the season. The Tigers now sit at 8-3 with one remaining game in the non-conference schedule and a real shot at going 9-3. The SEC slate is soft enough in the middle this version of the Tigers could basically will themselves to an NCAA bid with the right combination of wins.
Illinois will head home a try to regroup, a long slog ahead of them in what might be the toughest basketball conference in the country this season.
If you aren’t convinced Cuonzo Martin was a helluva hire for the University of Missouri at this point, I’m not sure what else to tell you.
STLToday.com: Mizzou can brag again, Tigers take fight out of Illini
ColumbiaTribune.com: Missouri pulls away from Illinois, ends Braggin’ Rights Drought
ColumbiaTribune.com: (COLUMN) Christmas comes early for Martin, Tigers
ColumbiaMissourian.com: Missouri claims Braggin’ Rights for first time in six years
PowerMizzou.com: ($) The Night Braggin’ Rights Came Back
KansasCity.com: Missouri snaps Braggin’ Rights losing streak to Illinois with 79-63 victory
We’ll obviously have more coverage in the coming days, but enjoy this win Mizzou fans. It’s been a while, and there’s reason for optimism with this Missouri team.
This will also be our Sunday Links post as it’s late on a Saturday, and I’ve had my celebratory drink and don’t feel like writing anymore.