Laurence Bowers lifts the Braggin' Rights trophy for the fourth straight season.
Dec. 22, 2012
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Laurence Bowers had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 12 Missouri over No. 10 Illinois 82-73 in the annual Braggin' Rights game on Saturday.
Alex Oriakhi added 13 points and 14 rebounds as Missouri (10-1) won its fourth straight in the 32-year-old series. Jabari Brown had 18 points and seven rebounds in his first start of the season, and Phil Pressey handed out 11 assists.
Brandon Paul led Illinois (12-1) with 23 points. Tyler Griffey scored 14, Joseph Bertrand had 13 and Nnanna Egwu 12 for the Illini.
Missouri used a 9-0 run late in the game to take the lead for good at 70-64. The Tigers held a 58-35 edge on the boards and outscored Illinois 44-24 in the paint.
Illinois, which leads the overall series 20-12, won nine meetings in a row from 2000-08 before Missouri began its winning streak.
Brown, a transfer from Oregon, became eligible after the first semester and made his initial appearance Monday in a 102-51 win over South Carolina State.
A blue-chip recruit, he made the most of his first starting assignment Saturday.
Brown anxiously watched from the sidelines as the Tigers rolled out to an 8-1 record without him. After becoming eligible, he has worked hard to make up for lost time.
Brown triggered a key 9-0 spurt that erased a three-point deficit and put the Tigers ahead 70-64. He had four points and two rebounds during the 2:31 blitz.
Brown scored from close range off a perfect pass from Earnest Ross to increase the lead to 68-64. Pressey added a short jumper seconds later to complete the run.
Oriakhi, who had his fourth double-double of the season, was impressed with Brown's effort.
"He's unbelievable. He did a little bit of everything tonight," Oriakhi said. "I can't believe he's fit in so fast. He's one of us now."
Brown played in two games at Oregon last season before deciding to transfer. He watched last season's Braggin' Rights game from his home in Oakland and was intrigued by the atmosphere, which annually features a sellout crowd with the fans divided equally between the schools.
Missouri coach Frank Haith was more than pleased with the performance of his new addition. He immediately moved Brown into the starting lineup after a 12-point performance against South Carolina State, in which Brown excelled defensively.
The physical game against Illinois featured 19 lead changes, 35 fouls and 43 free throws.
The Tigers scored 12 of the final 16 points in the first half to take a 41-35 lead into the break. Illinois reeled off eight unanswered points midway through the second half to go up 51-50 on a driving layup by Tracy Abrams. The Illini took their biggest lead of the second half, 64-61, on a baseline jumper by Egwu with 6:43 remaining.
But the Missouri defense took over from there, forcing seven successive Illinois misses. Brown, Ross, Tony Criswell and Pressey chipped in with key baskets.
Illinois managed only three field goals in the final 3:29.
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