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Illinois snaps Braggin’ Rights skid in dominant fashion

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The Illini can brag this year.

Evan McClintock

Way, way back in 2017, a baby-faced Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams were minor role players in an Illinois win over Missouri.

It should be noted Frazier went OFF in that 2017 contest, making it his coming out party.

Four years later, the super seniors were leaders on an Illini team that snapped a three-game skid in the annual Braggin’ Rights showdown, as Illinois thumped Mizzou, 88-63 , at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Wednesday night.

It started early, as Illinois picked up where it left off over the weekend against St. Francis (PA) — when it set a program-record and made 18 triples — and made its first four attempts from behind-the-arc, including one from Frazier.

After the first TV timeout, Williams joined the veteran party and pick-pocketed a Missouri guard 35 feet from the basket. While he missed the transition layup, Coleman Hawkins was right there to clean it up, part of a monster first half for the Illini, especially from Alfonso Plummer.

The Utah transfer — in his first and only Braggin’ Rights game — was the hottest player on the court for the Illini (9-3, 2-0 Big Ten); Plummer finished with a 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

While the last few years of showdowns were marred by individual rivalries (i.e. Mark Smith, Jeremiah Tilmon, etc.), this year’s game lacked much of that flavor, even as the Tigers (6-6) went on a bit of a run in the latter part of the first half.

But Illinois pulled back out to a 14-point lead by the break, thanks to a deeeeeeep three from Frazier.

Things got even better in the second half, with Plummer and Frazier leading the way for one of the best shooting teams in the nation. A 22-1 run — and a few slams from Kofi Cockburn (25 points, 14 rebounds) — helped the Illini double up the Tigers at one point, en route to the blowout victory and possibly the start of a new streak in the series.

NOTABLE NOTES

BACK IN THE BUILDING: One year after the game had to be played in Columbia due to the pandemic, Illinois and Missouri once again met in the middle in St. Louis. Having attended this game before, there’s not quite anything like it.

PERFECT NO MORE: After making his first 35 free throw attempts of the season, Plummer missed one late in the first half. He was closing in on Kiwane Garris’ record mark (39-for-39, 1995).

SOUND SMART

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

TWEET OF THE GAME

UP NEXT

The Illini have another week off before they close the non-conference schedule against Florida A&M next Wednesday, Dec. 29.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.