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Tigers earn Braggin' Rights for 2009

Mizzou vs. Illinois

Missouri junior forward Justin Safford fights for a rebound over Illinois freshman guard D.J. Richardson (1) and junior center Mike Tisdale in the Busch Braggin’ Rights game Dec. 23, 2009. Photo by Joel Kowsky/Athletics Media Relations

For nine years in a row, the Mizzou basketball team has come down on the wrong side of the annual Busch Braggin’ Rights basketball series with the University of Illinois. But the Tigers, led by a pair of young sharp shooters, ended the neutral-site losing streak at nine with an 81-68 victory over Illinois at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis Dec. 23, 2009. Official attendance was 20,497.

"They say this is a neutral-site game," said sophomore guard Kim English, who led all scorers with 24 points. "But this is a St. Louis, Missouri. It was a home game for us."

English ended the game with five 3-point baskets, while freshman guard Michael Dixon supplied 16 points and five assists.

The Tigers bolted to a quick 5-0 lead on an English 3-pointer followed by a Michael Dixon steal and assist to senior guard J.T. Tiller for a layup. The Tigers led by as many as 12 in the first half, but Illinois cut into the lead by halftime, 41-34.

By the end of the contest, Missouri's deep bench and tireless defense wore out the Illini, who committed 22 turnovers and shot 45.2 percent from the field. Mizzou opened up a 15-point lead down the stretch, and the fans in black and gold reveled as those in blue and orange headed for the exits.

"I thought it was a game of runs," said Missouri Coach Mike Anderson. "And we had the better runs at the end of the game.

"I saw the leadership emerge tonight on our basketball team."

The Tigers' last victory over the Illini came in 1999, when Mizzou defeated Illinois 78-72. The win improves Missouri to 8-3; Illinois falls to 8-4.