Posted on: November 27, 2012 at 13:51:23 CT
Annual rivalry between MU and Illinois held in St. Louis around Christmas time. First played in 1980 and has been held annually except for 1982. Illinois won 9 of 10 from 1980 to 1990, MU won 7 of 9 from 1991 to 1999, Illinois won 9 of 9 from 2000 to 2008, MU won the last 3 from that point and doesn’t appear poised to lose for many years into the future. This season will mark the third straight matchup with both teams in the top 25 provided the Illini don’t tumble out of the rankings.
Fun facts about MU’s rival:
- The two programs squared off 10 times prior to the series becoming the Braggin Rights in 1980. The first matchup was a 36-24 Illini win on Dec 20th, 1932.
- Kentucky and ku are the only members of either our former or current conference that have more NCAA basketball related probations than Illinois.
- The 19 losses the Illini suffered in 2008 are more losses than any MU season since the mid 1960’s.
- Their current head coach has finished in 3rd place of the Eastern Division of the Mid-American Conference before, to date his best conference finish.
- The Illini have avged 14.6 losses per year over the last 5 seasons, a mark of futility that has only been reached twice in a comparable timespan in all of MU history (the end of the Bob Vanetta era and the end of the Quin Snyder era).
- Norm Stewart’s 500th career victory came over Illinois in 1993.
- Former Tiger All American and head coach Craig Ruby coached the Illini from 1922 to 1936, compiling a 148-95 record and accounting for 12% of their B1G conference titles.
- The highest ranked Illinois team MU has defeated was #8 in 1956, when a senior Norm Stewart scored 31 (27 in the second half) in a 74-73 win.
- The Illini fan base is universally distinguishable by their oversized heads as a result of mongoloidism. Some still manage to function as normal members of society, most however do not.
- Last season only 220 D1 teams avged more points per game than the Illini, as only 271 teams shot the ball more accurately from behind the 3 pt line and only 197 teams had more assists. They were able to offset this disadvantage via the defensive end, where only 315 teams were more successful at defending the 3 point line than they and only 299 teams generate more steals.
- Don Freeman scored more points in a single season than any Illini player with his 668 points in 1966, a program mark that has never been broken. In fact, it would rank an impressive 8th place all time at MU.
- Of the 18 categories the NCAA ranks D1 programs statistically in for basketball, the Illini managed to finish higher than 80th in zero of them last season.
- The Illini program didn’t win an outright league basketball title from 1953 to 2004.
- Their former mascot, which is now banned due to its racial insensitivity, is unofficially the only mascot to ever be tackled during a Braggin Rights contest.
Former Tigers from Illinois:
- Bob Price: 19.6 ppg scorer his senior year in 1964 and First Team All Conference
- Derrick Grimm: MU’s 35th highest all time scorer, won the 3 point contest at the Final Four his senior year
- Gary Leonard: 34th pick in the NBA draft, 3rd highest career FG% in MU history
- Byron Irvin: Has 5th highest scoring season in MU history, first round NBA draft pick
- Tyron Lee: held Paul Pierce to 4 points as the Tigers handed the #1 jayhawks one of only two losses they would suffer on the season, scored 24 pts in the second half of his final game at Hearnes
- Justin Safford: shot a program best 65% from behind the arc as a sophomore and was a part of 93 career Tiger wins
Best individual performance in Braggin Rights game:
- Doug Smith, 1990-91. Scored 30 points and had 15 boards.
- Melvin Booker, 1993-94. Set MU program record with 13 assists and also had 21 points.
- Ricky Frazier, 1981-82. His 28 points were a series record that stood for 9 years.
- Andy Kaufmann, 1990-91. Topped D. Smith’s mark as the game’s high scorer, dropping in 33 points on seven 3 point buckets.
- Kenny Battle, 1988-89. Scored 28 including 2 free throws with under 30 seconds remaining to seal a 87-84 win, coming back from 18 down in the second half.
- Kiwane Garris, 1995-96. Redeeming himself from his two misses as a freshman, he goes 15 for 16 from the FT line and totals 23 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds.
In lieu of the upcoming border war, I decided to take a look back at one of the most memorable matchups of the series - 12/22/1993.
What is often forgotten is the context for Missouri coming into the game. Namely, they were largely unimpressive. Coming off a 7th out of 8 team finish the year before and being picked to finish 3rd in the preseason, MU opened the season against DII instate CMSU at home and BARELY pulled out a 69-66 win after being down as many as 14 points. They next went to Arkansas where they had won the last five matchups and proceeded to suffer the worst loss in program history, getting absolutely destroyed 120-68. Wins followed but they were unimpressive wins over Jackson State, Arkansas State, SMU, and Coppin State…the last of which was a 1 point win on a buzzer beater by Lamont Frazier. Needless to say leading up to the Braggin Rights game MU had shown no indication of optimism or a promising season. For their part Illinois was coming off a 69 point margin of victory over Chicago State. They featured their all-time leading scorer Deon Thomas and a superb freshman Kiwane Garris.
In the press conference beforehand the always quotable Norm Stewart proclaimed “They're a 278-point favorite going into the game.” MU had Reggie Smith listed as out due to injury, Winfield as questionable, and Heller as doubtful. Illinois came into the game ranked #19, MU was unranked. It would be the last matchup between the two teams in the old arena and all 18,000 seats were sold.
Crudup was a monster in the first half, almost single handedly carrying MU. He was 8 for 11 from the field for 18 first half points, and after Marlo Finner hit an unexpected three to close it out MU lead 42-38 going into the break.
MU would rush out to a 61-48 lead with 12 minutes to play and it appeared that the Tigers might take their third straight in the series. But Illinois would storm back and take the lead with just under 5 to play and turn their deficit into a 9 point lead. Frazier and Atkins each made two three pointers and 15-footer by Booker in the last 73 seconds of regulation to tie it up and send the game into overtime in thrilling fashion. With 30 seconds remaining and the Illini up by 5 the scoreboard had flashed “Illinois Wins” only to be proven wrong.
However, Crudup had fouled out with just over a minute to play in the comeback and Atkins (whose 3 pointer with 4 seconds remaining had tied the score) said he told Booker, “Now it's up to us, the perimeter guys, to step up even more.”
The first overtime would see both Atkins and Finner lost to fouls, and Kelly Thames carry the bulk of the scoring load and tie the game at 88 with a dunk at the end of overtime number 1.
Julian Winfield would be the next casualty to fouls, unfortunately being whistled as Garris drove the lane with the game tied and no time remaining in the second overtime. That sent the freshman Garris to the line all alone and everyone else to their respective benches to watch, needing only to make one to give the Illini the victory.
Garris led all scorers in the game with 31 points. He was shooting 94% from the line thus far in the season. The free throw lane was empty as all eyes were focused squarely on him. He missed the first attempt. Now, there are a lot of parallels between this situation and what would happen 12 years later to Christian Moody. But Moody was a walkon and not a good free throw shooter regardless. Garris for all intents and purposes had been the best offensive player on the court and was virtually automatic from the line at this early juncture of his career. But he was unable to seize the moment and his second attempt missed as well, sending the game into a third overtime.
After taking a 100-99 lead, MU lost its leader when Melvin Booker fouled out. Reggie Smith would be forced into action on his injured ankle due to attrition, and two unknown freshman would be thrust into the limelight. It is hard to remember in hindsight, but at this point in their careers Jason Sutherland and Derrick Grimm were the equivalent of Dominique Bull and Danny Feldman. In a glimpse of things to come, despite not playing in regulation Sutherland picked up 4 fouls in just the overtime periods but also knocked down 2 huge 3 pointers and grabbed numerous key rebounds. Both Sutherland and Grimm played great defense, hit big shots, and hit their free throws. And fittingly it was senior Lamont Frazier who iced the game at the line for the Tigers. MU won 108-107 in triple overtime.
And like that a season changed. The Tigers started blowing out opponents. MU would lose only one more regular season game all year. They would become only 1 of only 3 teams ever to go undefeated in Big 8 play. Booker would be Conference Player of the Year and an All American. MU would earn the only #1 seed in program history, and reach the Elite Eight. After not climbing inside the top 20 in the AP polls until Feb 7th, MU would finish the year at #5 in the polls tied for their highest end of season ranking ever.
Braggin Rights Quotes:
- "We may have to invoke a 'Let Me Win' rule every couple of years." “ Missouri coach Norm Stewart after Illinois' 67-55 win in 1985.
- "That wasn't the word I meant to choose. If I hurt anybody, I'm sorry. What I wanted to say was we'd go into the game and take no prisoners, something like that." Illinois' Kendall Gill after the Illini's 75-63 win in 1987. Before the game, Gill said Illinois wanted to humiliate Mizzou.
- "I do hereby solemnly swear to shoot the ball and continue to shoot the ball until both arms are severed from my body regardless of how many men are open." Stewart explaining that Derrick Chievous practiced the "postman's creed" after a 75-63 loss in 1987.
- "I've never lost on this court, and I'm not gonna lose tonight." Illinois' Stephen Bardo during a pregame talk in 1989. Bardo was right, finishing 4-0 for his career.
- "Well, whatever I said the last two or three years…. eight years…. use that. Just change the names." Stewart after his team lost its eighth straight in the series in 1990.
- "It beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick." Stewart after that same game when asked if he still enjoyed the series.
- "I don't think many people stayed up to watch after it went into the second overtime. They probably said 'Well, it will be on when we wake up.'" Missouri's Lamont Frazier after his team's 108-107 triple-overtime win in 1993.
- "We had the sick and wounded playing, and the women and children were next." Stewart after that triple-overtime win.
- "People wouldn't care if we played outside. The atmosphere will still be the same." Missouri's Julian Winfield after the first Braggin' Rights game at the Kiel Center in 1994.
- "It's not just another game, and I don't think some players understand that until they've played in it. It's just different. There's all these fans; the atmosphere is so intense; they sell beer, so the fans are all wild. It's just a crazy game." Illinois' Brian Cook before the 2002 game.
- "We knew this was going to be good, but this? Missouri is a great team, and to come in here and give them a beatdown like this, who knew it would be like that?" Dee Brown after Illinois' 75-60 win in 2002.
- "I was just amazed by the intensity when you entered the place. It's way beyond an NCAA (tournament) atmosphere." Illini coach Bruce Weber on attending the game as coach at Southern Illinois.
- "I dislike Missouri more than anybody. We always want to beat them." Brown before the 2003 game.