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Mizzou holds off late charge, upsets No. 6 Illinois 81-78 in Braggin' Rights game

Mizzou has now won three Braggin' Rights games in a row

COLUMBIA, Mo. — (AP) — Missouri held off a late charge from No. 6 Illinois and overcame 36 points from Fighting Illini star Ayo Dosunmu for an 81-78 victory Saturday night.

Dru Smith had 17 points, Javon Pickett had 14 points and five rebounds and the Tigers held on in the annual “Braggin' Rights” rivalry game.

Missouri led 49-41 at halftime and held on for its third straight win in the series. Illinois trailed by 13 with nine minutes left but rallied to tie it before the Tigers closed out the upset.

Dosunmu set a career high in scoring on 13-of-20 shooting, and Kofi Cockburn had 19 points with six rebounds for Illinois. Andre Curbelo added in 14 points off the bench.

Missouri guard Xavier Pinson ended the Tigers' seven-minute field goal drought on a spinning floater with 51 seconds left to make it 80-76. Cockburn threw down a dunk on the next possession, but that was waved off and he was given a Flagrant 1 foul after the 7-footer clipped Missouri's Mitchell Smith.

The Tigers ran down the clock before Kobe Brown air-balled a 3-pointer. Dosunmu took the rebound the other way and missed an off-balance 3 that was grabbed by Brown, who missed two free throws. Dosunmu tried to get off another late heave, but couldn't release in time.

The teams combined for 52 fouls. That meant plenty of trips to the foul line, where Missouri — which set an NCAA record for most consecutive foul shots made last season — vastly outperformed Illinois, shooting 84% to the Illini’s 61%.

The game was played in Columbia as challenges related to COVID-19 prevented the game from being held in its normal location of the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Mizzou Arena was chosen as the game site via a coin flip between it and Champaign’s State Farm Center in a streamed event last month.

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Mark Smith, who played his freshman year at Illinois before transferring to Missouri, was fairly quiet as he finished with five points before fouling out with 5:21 remaining. Jeremiah Tilmon, who initially committed to the Illini out of high school, also struggled in limited minutes due to foul trouble as he ended with three points and two rebounds as he also fouled out with 1:54 to play.

BIG PICTURE

Missouri: The Tigers won a game against their highest-ranked foe since beating then-No. 5 Florida on Feb. 19, 2013. Picked to finish 10th in the SEC, the Tigers continued their surprising 5-0 start by snatching their second ranked win of the season, the first against then-No. 21 Oregon on Dec. 2 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Illinois: Brad Underwood is now 1-3 against Missouri as the Fighting Illini’s head coach, with Saturday marking a deflating end to a nonconference slate that featured a dominant 83-68 win at No. 10 Duke earlier in the week. The Illini shot 23% from 3-point range, a stark contrast to the 63.6% clip from deep they maintained against the Blue Devils.

UP NEXT

Illinois: Starts Big Ten Conference play as it hosts Minnesota on Tuesday.

Missouri: Plays at home against Prairie View A&M on Friday.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25