Missouri Tigers Steve Moore (32) Marcus Denmon (12) and Justin Safford (23) hold up the annual "Braggin' Rights" trophy after defeating Illinois 75-64 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 22, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The 10th ranked Missouri Tigers used a 14-4 run at the end of the first half and at the start of the second half to spark a little life in their basketball team, then hung close with #21 Illinois until the final minute before pulling away with a 75-64 win in the Braggin’ Rights series at The Scott in St. Louis.

The score was 60-58 in favor of Mizzou with one minute to play and with the help of a four point play from Laurence Bowers and a run of eight points in nine seconds, the Tigers were able to pull away in the closing seconds.

Marcus Denmon had 15 points and Bowers added 13 points and nine rebounds. Justin Safford had 11 points for the Tigers (11-1). Michael Dixon, who was reinstated after a two-game suspension for violating team rules, had 10 points and six assists and played 31 minutes off the bench.

I think the Tigers really learned something from that overtime loss to Georgetown in Kansas City. “Instead of panicking, we made plays.” said Missouri coach Mike Anderson.

Illinois' Mike Tisdale pleads his case to referee Mike Sanzere during the second half. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Back to the intentional call for a moment, Illinois forward Mike Davis said there is no way that center Mike Tisdale should have been called for that, but Illini head coach Bruce Weber says the call was probably right, he just doesn’t like the intentional foul rule as Illinois has been hurt a couple of times by the rule.  The big moment though was how Mizzou transitioned after the made three by Illinois to find Bowers down at the other end of the floor. 

Bowers, Weber, Anderson and Davis comment on the four-point play

Missouri wasn’t hitting anything from the outside in the first half and found themselves down 27-18 with 2:20 left in the first half. Not only was Missouri missing, but they were giving Illinois plenty of second and third looks on the offensive end. It really was a sloppy first half, but the Tigers closed with a 9-0 run to tie the game at 27-27.

Dixon hit a three, came up with a steal that lead to a Denmon layup and Kim English drilled a three pointer and the Tigers opened up six point lead less than 90 seconds into the second half. However, Illinois came back in a second half that featured five ties and seven lead changes up until the final minute.