Illini Edge Tigers 73-70 in St. Louis
Dec. 19, 2006
ST. LOUIS (AP) -Shaun Pruitt had a career-high 19 points and nine rebounds, helping Illinois hold off Missouri 73-70 on Tuesday night.
Jamar Smith added 15 points and Brian Randle had 10 points and seven rebounds for Illinois (11-2), which won its seventh in a row in the annual "Braggin' Rights" game after a wild, error-filled finish. Coach Bruce Weber is 100-18 in his fourth season at the school, taking Illinois to the NCAA championship game in 2005.
Missouri's Mike Anderson became the first new coach to lose his initial game in the neutral site series, played before the usual sellout crowd. Still, the game was a lot more competitive than Illinois' 32-point blowout last year, the largest margin in a series that began in 1980.
Stefhon Hannah scored a career-high 23 points for Missouri (9-2), which has lost its last two. But in the last two minutes he missed the front end of a bonus, got his shot blocked by Randle on a runner with a chance to cut the gap to one, and then lost control on the Tigers' final possession, coughing up the ball near the top of the key with 2 seconds to go and a chance to force overtime.
Other errors by Missouri, which led by as many as six in the first half and was ahead 38-35 at the half, helped Illinois finish it off. Chester Frazier missed the front end of a bonus with 56 seconds left, but Leo Lyons was called for a lane violation and Frazier then hit a pair after the call for a 71-66 lead with 56 seconds to go.
Lyons, who made his first career start, missed a pair of free throws with 48 seconds to go for another lost opportunity. Smith hit two free throws with 24.3 seconds to go to give Illinois a 73-68 lead.
Warren Carter added 12 points and Frazier 10 for Illinois.