Using a 17-2 run late in the second half to break open a close game, Missouri ended a lengthy losing streak to border rival Illinois on Saturday night with a 79-63 nonconference win at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
Jordan Geist stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Jeremiah Tilmon chipped in a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double. Javon Pickett went 7-of-8 from the floor and finished with 16 points.
Trent Frazier canned six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 28 points for Illinois (4-8), but the rest of the Illini combined to hit only 14-of-39 shots from the floor.
Trailing 56-55 after Frazier sank a pullup with 7:43 left, Missouri (8-3) took the lead for good on a 3-point play by Tilmon at the 7:21 mark. Pickett capped the run at the 3:36 mark by turning a Geist feed into a layup and a 72-58 advantage.
The outcome was particularly meaningful to Pickett and Tilmon, who had verbally committed to the Illini before changing to the Tigers after the firing of Illinois coach John Groce, and to Missouri guard Mark Smith. He transferred from Illinois after his freshman season.
Seeking its sixth straight win in what’s called the Braggin’ Rights series, Illinois came out of the gate flying, scoring eight consecutive points after Tilman opened the scoring with a tip-in. Andres Feliz converted a layup for a 12-4 Fighting Illini lead at the 16:25 mark.
Missouri fought back, taking its first lead when Geist went off from the 3-point line. He sank three straight treys within 54 seconds, giving the Tigers a 21-17 edge at the 9:26 mark.
But Illinois used a 10-3 burst to claim a 29-25 advantage with 5:16 left on a putback by Aaron Jordan.
The Illini upped that cushion to five points before Missouri closed the half with a 12-3 run.
Reed Nikko jammed off Pickett’s feed with 45 seconds remaining, finishing the run and enabling the Tigers to take a 39-35 lead to the locker room.
—Field Level Media