ST. LOUIS – When you try to settle a game as a rival, it is helpful if both teams win a game from time to time. The fact that Missouri broke through a five-game defeat and crashed Illinois 79-63 in the annual Braggin Rights Game certainly did not hurt this game.
"It feels good to hold such a big trophy," Jeremiah Tilmon said after a 16-point and 12-rebound performance in a game in which he did not know if he first would play mid-game preps before the game.
But somehow this 38th edition of Braggin & #; Rights felt different when the tigers promoted the ridiculously oversized trophy for the first time since 201
Three of the five players introduced as Tiger Starters in St. Louis had either signed to Illinois or actually played for the Illini. Javon Pickett was mildly booed (probably it would have been louder if the Illinois fans realized that he would score 16 points and would be one of the main reasons Missouri would win). Tilmon was booed a little milder. Mark Smith became known as the first known player for both sides of this rivalry, dressed in blue and orange by half of 16,397.
Yes, here is some hostility.
"Yeah, I've certainly heard them," Tilmon said with a smile indicating that he was surprised someone was being asked.
It only took 89 seconds for Mizzou Jordan Spirit and Illinois & # 39; Ayo Dosunmo for a double technical foul. In the last 38:31 hours it became less hotter.
"I knew it would be such a game," said Illinois' Second Guard (19459004), Trent Frazier . "(With) them three of our players."
There was Mark Smith who emptied a three and roared toward the Illinois Bank as he went down the floor. There was Frazier, who objected from a distance and barked as he passed the Missouri sideline. There were Tilmon and Samba Kane staring at each other while Brad unleashed a tirade on Brad Underwood with the officials.
"I do not understand what the problem was," Tilmon said. "I just felt."
I just felt Braggin & # 39; Rights back to Braggin & # 39; Get Rights.
"The first half of the game I started screaming for no reason, I just started yelling, I was over-excited." Tilmon said, "When I got down the yard, I was totally nuts, I thought, why did I do that?"
"I've always seen it from afar," said Martin. You're part of it, you see the atmosphere, a tremendous atmosphere, and I think it's bigger than just a game.
There were many games in this series that meant more, eleven times since 2000, at least a seven times they were both in the rankings. Both are not exactly where they want to be. Missouri makes it 8: 3 after losing his best player before the season. 8 with the best win against UNLV. The number of viewers had dropped by about 4,000 a year ago.
But you could not say it. Not this night The Enterprise Center (I think they call it that today) felt like a big game. It felt like it felt like it used to. Cheers and Boos on each pipe. Joy and despair with every basket.
"This game is fun. This game should be about it, "said the Illinois coach Brad Underwood . "They have two programs that have a tremendous history. If you know that you will have passionate fans and passionate players.
Missouri began this project as it began in the recent past of the series. The tigers reversed the ball in the first 5:41 six times. They followed 12: 4 and looked a bit panicked. Illinois looked as if it would do what it always did in this case: limp overworked and march up the ridiculously oversized trophy. The Illini would win a game that seemed more important to them in recent years.
But then something funny happened: Braggin & Rights seemed to play a role again for Mizzou.
Smith Moving to Missouri After starting this game and scoring 11 points in a 70-64 win over Illinois a year ago, he dropped his only triple and let the Bank of Illinois know about it. Geist struck three hands from three consecutive possessions to give Missouri an early advantage, which he would hold for most of the next 20 minutes. He let out a scream as Brad Underwood called Timeout.
"It was great, the whole bank stood up," Pickett said. "Coach Nic ( Nicodemus Christopher ) has brought people to their knees."
It was all that this game should be.
"College basketball needs more of that," Underwood said.
Indeed. And Missouri fans could get used to a few more like tonight. A thoroughly tense game turned into a tiger celebration in the midst of a 24-4 run in Missouri in the last few minutes, which could not even be ruined by a missed tomahawk dunk from Tilmon's Missouri half of the building. Finally, the tigers could show all these emotions.
"I just go out and try not to scream," Pickett said. "But at this point, all you can do is scream and jump up and down."
The lights are a little brighter, the eggnog tastes sweeter, Christmas is getting a little happier in Missouri this year.
"Now that we've won it, I can be honest," said Martin. "I had a bad Christmas last year."
Braggin's rights are fun again. This is a great gift for us all.