Missouri vs. Eastern Illinois
WHEN/WHERE: 6 p.m. Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia
TV/RADIO: ESPNU; KMBZ (98.1 FM)
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P No. Missouri Ht. Yr. PPG
F 24 Kevin Puryear 6-7 So. 11.9
F 25 Russell Woods 6-8 Sr. 7.4
G 1 Terrence Phillips 5-11 So. 7.5
G 3 Frankie Hughes 6-4 Fr. 12.7
G 33 Cullen VanLeer 6-4 So. 7.4
P No. Illinois Ht. Yr. PPG
F 12 Leron Black 6-7 So. 13.1
C 33 Mike Thorne Jr. 6-11 Sr. 6.3
G 5 Jalen Coleman-Lands 6-3 So. 8.1
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-2 Sr. 12.7
G 21 Malcolm Hill 6-6 Sr. 18.2
ABOUT MISSOURI (5-5): During their last game, the Tigers lost to a directional school from the Land of Lincoln at Mizzou Arena, suffering a 67-64 loss against Eastern Illinois. It capped a six-game home stand that was supposed to fatten third-year coach Kim Anderson’s squad on victories ahead of the Braggin’ Rights Game. Instead, it resulted in two embarrassing losses, including a 62-52 defeat Nov. 28 against North Carolina Central. With a 19-point loss against Arizona in the mix, Mizzou wound up 3-3 during that stretch. Cold shooting — the Tigers rank 316th nationally among 347 NCAA Division I teams in shooting (40.3 percent from the field) — has been the primary culprit. Unless Mizzou, which has lost three straight against Illinois, finds a way to make shots, wins will remain difficult to come by.
ABOUT ILLINOIS (9-3): The Fighting Illini has bounced back from a three-game skid, which included an overtime loss at home against Winthrop and lopsided neutral-court losses to West Virginia and Florida State, to win five consecutive games. The current hot stretch includes victories against North Carolina State, VCU and BYU. The Braggin’ Rights Game is the final nonconference tune-up for fifth-year coach John Groce’s squad. Black, Hill and Abrams have taken turns as Illinois’ leading scorer during the win streak, making it a pick-your-poison situation for the Mizzou defense. As a junior in 2013-14, Abrams ripped out Tigers fans’ hearts with two game-winning free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining. He received a sixth season of eligibility after missing his senior season with a torn ACL two years ago and his redshirt senior season last year with a torn Achilles’ tendon.