No. 21 Illini Claim Victory Over Tigers, 71-70

<p>ST. LOUIS - Illinois surrendered a 21-point lead before rallying in the final minute, regaining the edge on James Augustine's layup with 58.5 seconds to play and beating Missouri 71-70 Tuesday night in the annual grudge match.

Dee Brown led No. 21 Illinois (7-2) with 18 points and six assists. Augustine had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Travon Bryant had a career-high 19 points, as did Rickey Paulding, for No. 11 Missouri (4-2), which lost for the second time in three games. Bryant also matched a career high with 12 rebounds and blocked two shots. The Illini led 40-19 with 4:20 to go in the first half. Missouri went on a 15-2 run over the next seven minutes and eventually tied the game at 67-67 on a 3-pointer by Bryant with 1:30 to play.

After Augustine's basket, Johnson had a chance to tie the game again, but missed a short jumper with 23 seconds left. After Brown made two free throws with 19 seconds left, Missouri's Jimmy McKinney hit a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left. After a timeout, the Illini iced the game by simply inbounding the ball.

Illinois has won the last four "Braggin' Rights" games. The sellout crowd at the Savvis Center was about a 60-40 split of fans, with the mostly-yellow clad Missouri fans slightly outnumbering the mostly-orange Illini faithful. But the folks in orange had the most to cheer about. Among those in attendance were U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and Jim Talent, and Attorney General John Ashcroft, a former Missouri governor.

Brown, a 6-foot sophomore, led a fast-break offense that Missouri struggled to keep up with, especially in the first half, when the Tigers committed 11 of their 18 turnovers. Illinois hadn't played in 10 days, but if there was any rust, it didn't show. The Illini never trailed, sprinting to a 9-2 start and adding runs of 16-2 and 13-2 later in the first half. Illinois consistently worked the ball inside for easy baskets, even outrebounding the bigger Tigers 22-20 in the opening half.

Nine of Illinois' first 11 field goals were either layups, short hooks or jumpers from within five feet. When the Tigers began to collapse inside, the Illini had success with 3-pointers, making five of eight in the opening half, though they made just one of eight in the second half.

Missouri missed 13 of its first 16 shots.

The Braggin' Rights games date to 1980. Illinois has won 15 of the 23 games. Paulding, a preseason All-American who was shooting 33 percent from the field entering the game, was 6-for-10.

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