Johnathan Williams III
▪ WHEN/WHERE: 1 p.m. Saturday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis
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▪ TV/RADIO: ESPN2; KMBZ (980 AM)
▪ ABOUT MISSOURI (5-5): The Braggin’ Rights series started in 1980 and has been played annually since 1983 with the Tigers posting a 12-21 record during that span against Missouri’s other border rival, Illinois. First-year coach Kim Anderson’s squad will have a size advantage and must use that to be better on the boards. The Tigers also could use another boost from freshman Jakeenan Gant, who scored 13 points in 15 minutes during his debut against Xavier last Saturday after a nine-game suspension. MU also needs freshman Montaque Gill-Caesar to bounce back. He’s shot 25 percent and averaged seven points the last two games.
▪ ABOUT ILLINOIS (8-3): The Fighting Illini opened the season with six straight wins, but coach John Groce’s squad has lost three of its last five games. Much like Xavier, which beat Missouri by 16 points last Saturday, Illinois is among the nation’s most efficient offenses. The Illini commit only 10.3 turnovers per game, which is the 10th fewest among 351 NCAA Division I teams, and commit a turnover on only 14.7 percent of their possessions, which is fifth best in the country. Last season’s Braggin’ Rights hero, Tony Abrams, who hit the game-winning free throws in the closing seconds, is gone for season because of an ACL tear.
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org