University of Missouri

Missouri notes: Guard Wes Clark returns to starting lineup

Missouri forward Jakeenan Gant (right) blocked a shot by Illinois guard Jaylon Tate on Saturday during the Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis.
Missouri forward Jakeenan Gant (right) blocked a shot by Illinois guard Jaylon Tate on Saturday during the Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis. the associated press

Missouri sophomore guard Wes Clark returned to the starting lineup for the first time in four games Saturday against Illinois during the 34th annual Braggin’ Rights game at the Scottrade Center.

Clark, who started the first six games of the season, was suspended indefinitely Dec. 2 before the Southeast Missouri game for violating team rules.

He returned after one game and played Dec. 5 against Oklahoma, but he hadn’t started since the seventh-place game at the Maui Invitational Nov. 26 against Chaminade.

“I thought he responded really well,” Tigers coach Kim Anderson said.

Freshman Namon Wright had started the last four games in Clark’s place, but Anderson said he was sick a few days this week.

Clark finished second on Missouri with 11 points and added five rebounds, three assists and five turnovers in 31 minutes.

He also hit two game-tying shots in the closing minutes, though the Tigers came up short 62-59 against the Fighting Illini.

“He stepped up at the end and wasn’t afraid to take a big shot,” Anderson said.

First half

Key play: Missouri had seized momentum late in the first half, but Illinois senior Ahmad Starks snatched it back with a contested three-pointer from the left wing in the closing seconds for a 32-30 halftime lead.

Key stat: Illinois outscored Missouri 22-8 in the paint and owned a 10-3 edge on points off turnovers.

Second half

Key play: Rayvonte Rice hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer, breaking a 59-59 tie.

Key stat: Missouri made only two of 12 three-pointers in the second half after going one of 16 from long range in a loss last Saturday against Xavier.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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