ST. LOUIS – There is a pre-Christmas tradition that fans of the program love to see but hasn’t been particularly happy over the past few years.
That’s the “Braggin’ Rights” game for Illinois basketball, which his the team’s annual tussle with their border rival in St. Louis. While always a favorite for the fans, it hasn’t been recently for the Illini, who lost their last three meetings with the Tigers, including their one in 2020 that was played in Columbia due to the pandemic.
For a program that’s enjoyed success the last two seasons, it’s not a streak that Brad Underwood’s team was particularly proud of, but they managed to take care of that on Wednesday night.
They did so by leaving no doubt over the course of 40 minutes as to who the better team is at the moment in the 2021-2022 season.
With a strong offense pacing the effort, Illinois took a 14 point lead into halftime and would build the lead to over 30 before settling with an 88-63 victory over Missouri to end a three-game losing streak to their rivals. It improves the Illini to 9-3 on the season as they continue to approach the start of the full Big Ten campaign.
Illinois shot 56.9 percent from the floor with Kofi Cockburn leading the effort with a game-high 25 points on the evening. Alfonso Plummer had 22 on the evening including a trio of three-pointers and that total was the same for Trent Frazier who finished with 15 points.
For the first time since 2017, the “Braggin’ Rights” trophy returns to Champaign, doing so for the second time in Underwood’s tenure at the school.
It helped the Illini increase their lead in the overall series to 33-19 and they hope to keep a trend going when the teams meet in 2022. Since 1997, either Illinois or Missouri has won at least three games in a row against each other, with the Illini winning the previous five match-ups with for the Tigers’ winning streak.
But the future is for another day in Champaign as the Illini get to take the “Braggin’ Rights” trophy home for the first time in a while.