ST. LOUIS Before the game, the question was posed as to whether the Braggin’ Rights game between Missouri and Illinois has lost its shine.
Only 14,456 showed up Wednesday for the 35th edition of the game staged in St. Louis.
The Tigers’ section behind the basket was noticeably empty.
Since the game moved to the Scottrade Center in 1994, it was only the second crowd under 20,000.
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The 2008 game drew 19,586, but Missouri coach Kim Anderson thought poor timing and not a lack of interest in the rivalry had more to do with the poor attendance.
“Man, I’ve got more to worry about than that …,” he said. “Obviously, if it was two ranked teams coming in playing, it would maybe enhance the crowd, but I think it was the worst possible day in the world to play — December 23rd. I understand it’s a television thing, but a lot of people are already gone for the holidays or, if they’re like me, they’ve probably got to do shopping. I think it’s a great game and still a great atmosphere.”
He acknowledged that both teams entering play with five losses also probably kept the crowd down.
But despite the smallest crowd by 5,130 in series history at the Scottrade Center (and since at least 1998 at any venue), the atmosphere was rowdy, especially as Missouri staged its comeback.
“The atmosphere was great,” Phillips said, “and I love our fans. They’re with us when we win and with us when we lose. Especially tonight, there were still with us when we were down 15 and we made a little run to comeback. I heard them, and that comeback was brought to you by them.”
By the numbers
4-1: Missouri’s record when winning the rebounding battle after finishing plus-11 on the boards in a loss to Illinois. The Tigers beat Wofford, Arkansas State, Northern Illinois and Nebraska-Omaha on the glass and scoreboard.
15: Turnovers by Missouri for the fourth time in a game this season (at Xavier, Northern Illinois, Nebraska-Omaha)
25.8: Namon Wright’s shooting percentage in the last 10 games. He started the season by scoring 18 on 5-of-7 shooting, but has struggled to find the range ever since, including an 8-of-34 mark from three-point range (23.5 percent).