COLUMBIA, Mo. — Jeremiah Tilmon’s three-point play with a second left lifted No. 14 Missouri over Bradley 54-53 on Tuesday night.
Down eight with under four minutes to go, Missouri (6-0) went on a 6-0 run in the final 1:33 to spoil Bradley's upset bid in dramatic fashion.
On the Tigers’ final possession, Xavier Pinson found Tilmon in the post on the left block. With time ticking down, Tilmon power-dribbled to the basket and forced a foul from Elijah Childs, finishing through the contact and earning a trip to the free throw line with a chance to win the game.
Tilmon sank the foul shot, and Mitchell Smith swatted away two inbounds passes by the Braves (6-3) to clinch it.
The decisive bucket capped a strong second half for Tilmon. The big man from East St. Louis, Illinois, finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds after having just one point and three rebounds at halftime.
Missouri led 21-19 at the break after the teams shot a combined 15 for 70 (21%) in a sluggish first half, including 2 for 24 from 3-point range. Pinson was responsible for both makes.
Bradley was much better in the second half, going 15 for 27 from the field. Childs converted a three-point play and Ville Tahvanainen followed with a 3 to give the Braves a 50-42 lead with 3:44 to go. Tahvanainen’s deep ball was one of just two the Braves hit all night.
Missouri fought back, cutting the margin to two with 48.4 seconds left on two free throws by Mark Smith. After a defensive stop, the Tigers ran some clock before Smith missed a contested 3-pointer. Bradley’s Jayson Kent missed the front end of a 1-and-1 after being fouled by Javon Pickett, setting up Tilmon’s game-winning play.
Childs had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Kent scored 11 off the bench.
Bradley: The Braves were seconds away from breaking a 20-game losing streak against ranked teams that dates to a win over No. 18 Northern Iowa in 2010, along with a losing streak against top-15 nonconference foes on the road that stretches to 1956.
Missouri: Cuonzo Martin is off to his best start as a coach since opening 10-0 with Missouri State in 2010.
Bradley: Begins Missouri Valley Conference play with a two-game series at Valparaiso starting Monday.
Missouri: Opens its SEC slate against No. 8 Tennessee at home on Dec. 30.