No. 9 Missouri Holds Off No. 25 Illinois 78-74
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Phil Pressey had 18 points, five assists and two steals, and ninth-ranked Missouri held off a second-half charge by No. 25 Illinois for a 78-74 victory in the annual Braggin’ Rights game on Thursday night.
Reserve Michael Dixon added 18 points and Ricardo Ratliffe had 14 for Missouri, which squandered a 13-point cushion before recovering late. The Tigers have won three straight in the series and they’re 12-0 for the first time since a 19-0 start in 1981-82.
Joseph Bertrand came in off the bench and had a career-high 19 points on 9-for-9 shooting for Illinois (11-2) in its second loss in three games. Brandon Paul added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Meyers Leonard had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Illinois led 70-68 after three free throws by D.J. Richardson with 2:01 to go, but Missouri answered with seven straight points.
Bertrand, a sophomore, totaled two points in the previous six games and came in averaging 3.2 per game. He scored nine points in a 17-3 surge for a 62-61 lead with 7:01 to go. The Fighting Illini were 14 for 23 to start the second half.
Missouri helped with undisciplined play, throwing up several ill-advised 3-point attempts, but regained the lead on a driving shot by Phil Pressey with 6:45 to go.
Missouri made its first 14 free throws, eight of them by Dixon in the first half, and finished 19 for 23, while Illinois was 8 for 10. Dixon, one of the nation’s best from the line at 95 percent entering the game, had the first miss early in the second half and was 10 for 12 at the line.
Both schools were ranked for the second straight year and eighth time in the 31-game series overall that Illinois leads 20-11.
Missouri seized control with a 17-2 run for a 19-9 lead with just over 13 minutes left in the half, then closed it out with six straight points capped by Matt Pressey’s follow dunk on younger brother Phil’s missed layup with 2.5 seconds to go.
Richardson had 10 of his 13 points at the half for Illinois, missed on the bonus with 29.2 seconds left and fouled Dixon on a drive with 1:24 to go.
Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon were among a sellout crowd of 22,087.