Missouri Remains Unbeaten With 'Braggin' Rights' Victory Over Illinois

No. 9 Missouri's win over No. 25 Illinois highlighted a Thursday night that saw 17 ranked teams take the floor.

For a while there I wasn't sure whether or not two ranked teams were ever going to play one another again. I'm not saying I cried a little, but I definitely cried a little.

TOP 25 SCORES

No. 1 Syracuse 80, Tulane 61
No. 2 Ohio State 69, Miami of Ohio 40
No. 3 Kentucky 87, Loyola (Md.) 63
No. 6 Baylor 72, Saint Mary's 59
No. 8 Connecticut 79, Fairfield 71
No. 9 Missouri 78, No. 25 Illinois 74
N0. 10 Marquette 64, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 50
No. 11 Florida 82, Florida State 64
No. 12 Kansas 63, USC 47
Long Beach State 68, No. 14 Xavier 58
No. 16 Georgetown 60, Memphis 49
No. 17 Indiana 89, UMBC 47
No. 18 Mississippi State 82, Northwestern State 67
No. 19 Michigan State 90, Lehigh 81
No. 20 Michigan 77, Bradley 66
No. 23 Creighton 87, Northwestern 79

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Missouri 78, Illinois 74

Missouri led the annual "Braggin' Rights" game with Illinois by double digits for the bulk of 40 minutes, but found itself down 70-68 with two minutes remaining. The Tigers (12-0) then used the athleticism and pressure that has them off to their best start since 1981-82 to finish the game on a 10-4 run.

Phil Pressey, who somehow was not named to the 60-player Cousy Award (point guard) watch list earlier this week, led the way with 18 points, five assists and the game's key basket in the final minute. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mizzou's win was that it came with star Marcus Denmon going just 2-of-9 from the field.

Missouri still has yet to play a true road game, which means its status as a national title contended is debatable. What isn't is how enjoyable Frank Haith's first Tiger team is to watch. They're athletic, they're skilled and they play at a ridiculously fast pace, but they do so while seeming more under control than they did under Mike Anderson.

Mizzou will hit the road for the first time on Dec. 30 against Old Dominion, its final non-conference tune-up before Big 12 play begins.

UPSET OF THE NIGHT: Long Beach State 68, Xavier 58 (Diamond Head Classic)

Tu Holloway's return from a one-game suspension wasn't enough to keep Xavier from becoming LBSU's second top-15 upset victim of the season.

Holloway's 17 points and four assists couldn't topple a balanced 49er attack that featured five players scoring in double figures, led by freshman Michael Caffey's career-high 14 points.

The Musketeers (8-2), who have now dropped two straight, had their star point guard back but were still without starting guard Mark Lyons, starting forward Dez Wells and reserve Landen Amos. All four were suspended for their actions in the bench-clearing brawl against Cincinnati earlier this month. Lyons is eligible to return Friday, while Wells and Amos will miss the tournament while serving their four-game penalties.

The Beach, which won by ten at Pittsburgh earlier this season, improved to 5-5.

PLAYER OF THE NIGHT: Chris Gaston, Fordham

The junior forward scored a career-high 35 points and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds as Fordham defeated Texas State 81-70. Gaston's nine double-doubles are the most of any player in Division-I.

HONOR ROLL:

Drew Crawford, Northwestern - His 34-point performance tied the individual opponent record at the CenturyLink Center. The Wildcats lost to No. 23 Creighton, though, 87-79.

Doug McDermott, Creighton - Was saddled with foul trouble for much of the first half, but scored 18 of his 27 points in the final 20 minutes to lift the Bluejays to a big win.

Dorian Green, Colorado State - Scored a night-high 36 points in a 92-78 win over Northern Colorado.

Ike Azotam, Quinnipiac - Dropped a career-high 32 points as the Bobcoats bettered Niagara, 85-81.

Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State - Scored 24 points to go with 14 rebounds - including 11 on the offensive end - in the Bulldogs' 15-point win over Northwestern State.

IMAGE OF THE NIGHT:

67021_illinois_missouri_basketball_medium
Happy Tigers.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT:

Good Lord, Patric Young...



TEN TO END:

1. West Virginia knocked off Missouri State 80-78 in overtime to give Bob Huggins his 700th career win. Huggy Bear is No. 4 on the all-time list.

2. Georgetown looked extremely impressive in a fairly dominant 11-point win over Memphis, the second time they've defeated UM this year. Still, I think the time has come to question whether or not the Tigers are actually...you know...good.

All of Memphis' losses have come to teams currently ranked, but Murray State (at home) is the only one they've lost to by less than eight points. They began the season with what seemed like a terrific 16-point win over Belmont and then knocked off Tennessee in double overtime in Maui, but neither one of those teams have played up to their early-season expectations. UM simply doesn't have the offensive firepower to win without defense this year, and they're going to have to buckle down considerably on that end to have a shot at winning Conference USA.

3. Baylor notched its second straight quality victory by beating Saint Mary's 72-59. Still, the Bears turned the ball over 15 times and assisted on just seven of their 26 made field goals. That's a very "Baylor" stat line, and that's not a compliment.

4. Despite injuring his ankle during practice earlier this week, Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier scored a game-high 24 points in the Huskies' 79-71 win over Fairfield. UConn will now play its first three Big East games (South Florida, St. John's, Seton Hall) without head coach Jim Calhoun, who will be serving a suspension for NCAA recruiting violations.

5. Struggling Rice earned its first Division-I victory since Nov. 30 by upsetting Texas A&M, 65-58. To add injury to insult, the Aggies lost Kourtney Roberson for 4-6 weeks with a fractured ankle.

6. Michigan forward Evan Smotrycz is 15-of-19 from three over the Wolverines' last four games.

7. Indiana guard Jordan Hulls has now set a Big Ten record with 58 consecutive made free throws, which is also the 10th best mark in NCAA history. The 17th-ranked Hoosiers dominated yet another opponent, beating UMBC 89-47.

8. What was up with Tulane's baby blue jerseys?

9. Mercer got a big program win by going into Georgia Tech and knocking off the Yellow Jackets, 65-59. The Atantic Sun might not be quite the cake walk for Belmont that most believe it to be. The Bears and Bruins have already met once, and the overwhelming league favorites (BU) won by just four.

10. Freshman Kyle Wiltjer came off the bench to score a game-high 24 points in No. 3 Kentucky's rout of Loyola (Md.). The former McDonald's All-American had not scored in double figures since UK's Nov. 19 win over Penn State.

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