University of Missouri

Nothing to brag about: Cold-shooting MU loses fourth straight vs. Illinois

Mizzou reacts to Braggin' Rights loss

Missouri sophomore forward Kevin Puryear, coach Kim Anderson and sophomore guard Jordan Geist discuss Wednesday's 75-66 Braggin' Rights loss against Illinois at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
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Missouri sophomore forward Kevin Puryear, coach Kim Anderson and sophomore guard Jordan Geist discuss Wednesday's 75-66 Braggin' Rights loss against Illinois at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

The date changes and the locations vary, but the story for Missouri men’s basketball largely remains the same.

Third-year coach Kim Anderson’s Tigers can’t make enough shots to beat good — and even some not-so-good — teams.

It was true again Wednesday at the Scottrade Center, where Mizzou suffered its fourth straight Braggin’ Rights loss 75-66 against Illinois in front of a modest crowd of 12,409 fans who were heavily partisan for the Illini.

“It comes down to making shots,” Anderson said. “We had some looks; we couldn’t get them down. That’s kind of been our story the last few weeks.”

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It’s a frustrating tale for the Tigers repeatedly to relive, and that was especially true for sophomore forward Kevin Puryear, who finished with team-highs of 17 points and nine rebounds.

“Anybody that knows me knows I’m very competitive, and I’m also a Missouri kid, so I know the stakes of this game,” said Puryear, a Blue Springs South graduate. “I’ve been watching this game since I was a kid, so winning that game was something that I wanted very badly.”

Unfortunately, the Tigers, 5-6, shot only 36.1 percent — including a meager 31.6 percent from three-point range, going 6 of 19 from deep.

It’s the fifth time in six games Mizzou has shot below 40 percent from the field, prompting some changes.

“Quite candidly, we put in a whole new offense the past few days and obviously we’ve got a little refining to do on that, but I thought (Puryear) did a good job of posting hard and I thought our guys did a good job of getting the ball to him,” Anderson said.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini, 10-3, cooled off considerably in the second half after shooting better than 60 percent before the break, but still finished 24 of 49 overall, a 49-percent clip that proved to be plenty when coupled with a 38-29 rebounding edge.

Illinois was in the bonus within the first five minutes of the second half and went 18 of 24 from the free-throw line after intermission in keeping Mizzou at bay.

With the Tigers riding a three-game losing streak, Anderson said it’s a good time for a break and that changes will be coming after Christmas.

“This game showed me some things about our team,” Anderson said. “I think we have a lot of evaluation to do in the next few days, but I’ll probably, next time we have a game, I doubt we’ll start the same five guys. I think we’ve got to mix it up a little bit and maybe some guys will play better coming off the bench and be more relaxed.”

Mizzou trailed by 10 points for a big chunk of the game, but made Illinois sweat a bit in the closing minutes.

Freshman center Reed Nikko banked in a free throw, then crawled the second one over the front of the rim, off the backboard and into the net with 6:36 remaining.

At that point, the Illini’s lead was down to 63-59, the closest the game had been since the game’s opening five minutes.

That’s also where the Tigers’ momentum stalled.

Illinois sophomore forward Michael Finke sandwiched a free throw and a three-pointer around Missouri sophomore guard Cullen VanLeer’s rushed and contested deep try from the top of the key that banged off the left half of the backboard.

It wasn’t the only ugly shot the Tigers launched that drew only Plexiglas down the stretch.

Missouri made only one field goal in the final 5:21, a three-pointer by Terrence Phillips with 7 seconds left, as Illinois pulled away for its sixth consecutive victory.

Sophomore guard Jordan Geist provided a second-half spark for the Tigers and finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in only 17 minutes, but he sat for a decisive 7-minute stretch late in the game.

“He probably should have been in,” Anderson said. “We were trying to get (freshman guard) Frankie (Hughes) or Cullen going and see if somebody could hit an outside shot.”

Hughes and VanLeer finished a combined 2 of 9 from long range, while Phillips was 3 of 5 from deep and Geist actually leads Mizzou in three-point percentage this season.

“I just try to give our team a spark and get us going,” Geist said. “I knew that we were capable of playing with them and beating them.”

At least the Tigers never stopped fighting — almost literally.

The 5-foot-10 Phillips showed some spunk with 1:27 remaining, stepping to 6-foot-10 senior center Maverick Morgan after a shove while chasing an offensive rebound.

Both players were assessed technical fouls on the play.

ILLINOIS 75, MISSOURI 66

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Missouri

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Puryear

30

5-10

7-9

9

0

2

17

Woods

24

3-4

1-2

4

2

3

7

Hughes

21

1-11

0-0

0

1

2

3

Phillips

29

5-12

1-2

4

0

3

14

VanLeer

35

2-8

0-0

1

3

5

5

Geist

17

4-6

4-4

2

2

4

12

Barnett

15

1-6

1-2

2

0

0

4

Nikko

14

0-1

2-2

2

1

2

2

Jackson

10

1-3

0-0

3

0

0

2

Walton

3

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Smith

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

2

0

Totals

200

22-61

16-21

27

9

23

66

Percentages: FG .361, FT .762. Three-Point Goals: 6-19, .316 (Phillips 3-5, Barnett 1-3, VanLeer 1-4, Hughes 1-5, Geist 0-1, Puryear 0-1). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 2 (Barnett, Nikko). Turnovers: 8 (Puryear 3, Barnett, Phillips, Smith, VanLeer, Woods). Steals: 4 (Geist, Phillips, VanLeer, Walton). Technical Fouls: Phillips, 1:28 second. Fouled Out: VanLeer.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Illinois

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Black

17

0-2

0-0

6

0

4

0

Thorne

16

4-5

0-2

0

1

2

8

Abrams

13

1-4

0-0

3

0

5

3

Coleman-Lands

33

4-8

2-2

3

1

2

12

Hill

35

6-12

7-10

5

2

2

21

Tate

30

1-3

3-6

1

6

2

5

Morgan

24

6-11

7-8

11

1

3

19

Finke

23

1-2

1-2

7

0

1

4

Williams

5

1-2

0-0

0

0

1

3

Lucas

3

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

24-49

20-30

36

11

22

75

Percentages: FG .490, FT .667. Three-Point Goals: 7-17, .412 (Hill 2-4, Coleman-Lands 2-5, Finke 1-2, Williams 1-2, Abrams 1-3, Tate 0-1). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 3 (Coleman-Lands, Finke, Hill). Turnovers: 15 (Abrams 3, Black 2, Coleman-Lands 2, Finke 2, Thorne 2, Lucas, Morgan, Tate, Williams). Steals: 3 (Black, Finke, Tate). Technical Fouls: Morgan, 1:28 second. Fouled Out: Abrams.

Half: Illinois 39-29. Att: 12,409

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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