The Illinois and Missouri matchup this weekend for the annual Braggin’ Rights game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis is the 48th total matchup between these two teams and the 37th as part of the Braggin’ Rights series. Illinois leads the overall series 31-16 (24-12 in Braggin’ Rights).
While the past few games — not including Longwood — have been a bit rough in terms of fundamental basketball for the Illini, Braggin’ Rights is always that special time of year. It’s a time when all Illini fans can look forward to crushing Mizzou because, let’s be honest, they deserve it.
However this year’s matchup is particularly interesting with new Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin, and the illustrious Father/Son team of Michael Porter Sr./Jr. Thankfully for the Illini, Porter Jr. will be missing this year’s matchup after having spinal surgery earlier in the season. Regardless, just remember “But Cuonzo can’t coach.”
Take a step back, and the 2014 Braggin’ Rights matchup was one for the ages. It was a back-and-forth game where neither team led by more than 6 points. The Illini wore the 1989 Flyin’ Illini throwbacks, and John Groce donned the Lou Henson-style orange blazer. The Scottrade Center was filled, with a very clear 60/40 split of Illini Orange and Mizzou black in the stands. The atmosphere during the game still remains as arguably the best I have seen from an Illinois game in my time at school.
The Illini entered the game with a 9-3 record, coming off a 73-55 win over Hampton. Miznoz entered the game at 5-6, fresh off a 74-58 loss to Xavier. The first half of the game was very close, although, it could have been less competitive as Illinois missed its first seven three-point attempts in the first half. Illinois entered halftime with a 32-30 lead.
Illinois stretched the lead to a high of six points with a 42-36 lead and 12:46 left in the game, but Mizzou clawed its way back to tie the game at 55 with 4:40 to go.
The last 5 minutes of the game were pretty uneventful, and with 17.8 seconds left, a Wesley Clark jumper from the key tied the game at 59. After the ball was inbounded to Rayvonte Rice, he took the ball just past half court, dribbling out the clock. He approached the three-point arc, and, after a pick from Nnanna Egwu gave him a preferable match-up, Rice dropped back and DRILLED a three.
The Scottrade Center was the loudest I have ever heard it — and probably the loudest it’ll be for at least a few more years based on the declining attendance numbers in the series.
In fact, in the video below, the crowd gets so loud that it overwhelms Brian Barnhart and Jerry Hester as they enthusiastically called the end of the game.
After the shot, Rice had a split second to enjoy it before being swarmed by Egwu and the rest of the Illini bench, where he was tackled to the ground in celebration of his shot. And just like that, the Illini had won their second-straight Braggin’ Rights matchup, and their 22nd game of the series all-time.