What was the difference between the clock and the players in Friday night’s Missouri-Illinois alumni basketball game at the Savvis Center? The clock never stopped running, while the players, at times, had trouble running.
Names from Mizzou’s past, some a few, to quite a few pounds heavier than fans remembered, took on fellow former Illini players in what turned out to be a hotly contested 56-51 win for the Tigers. The score was tied at 29-29 after the first half. Jokes and giggles were ever-present in the first twenty minutes.
The Tigers moved out to a comfortable lead in the second half before the Illinis cut to within three points late in the game and the laughter stopped. Older, tightly wrapped bodies began diving after loose balls, shots were physically contested and players were snarled on the floor.
At one point the referees had to step in to prevent things from getting too physical as tempers started to flare. Jason Sutherland, who was known for a feisty style of play during his days at Mizzou was involved.
In the end, the Tigers held on to grab the victory. Former head coaches Norm Stewart and Lou Henson guided the two squads. Some of the players included Sutherland, John Brown, Willie Smith, Doug Smith, Derick Chievous, Brian Grawer, Jevon Crudup, Kim Anderson, Mike Sandbothe and Greg Church for the Tigers. Steve Stipanovich was present, but knee surgeries kept him from suiting up for the Tigers.
Chievous, Mizzou’s all-time leading scorer wasn’t sporting his famous Band-Aid on his face, but was proud to show off the heavy wrapping on his ankle, which he felt more than made up for his lack of bandages on his face.
Kenny Battle, Kendall Gill, Sergio McClain and Marcus Liberty suited up for Illinois.