No. 21 Illinois lost to Missouri for the second straight season in the Braggin' Rights game. This time, Missouri scored sixd points in 1.2 seconds to pull away.

 

Playing hard can't beat a six-point play.

Attempting to bounce back from sleep-walking through a loss to Illinois-Chicago last weekend, No. 21 Illinois showed some toughness and a spark missing for nearly two weeks to carry a three-point lead late in the game.

 But the outcome changed when Illini center Mike Tisdale was called for an intentional foul with 40.2 seconds left. No. 9 Missouri converted the basket, the two free throws and another basket on the ensuing possession to score six points in 1.2 seconds to take control while pulling away for a 75-64 victory in a super-charged Braggin' Rights game before a crowd of 21,634 at Scottrade Center Wednesday.

After Illinois pulled within 62-61 on a 3-pointer by guard D.J. Richardson with 42.5 seconds left, Missouri forward Laurence Bowers beat the defense down the court. Official John Higgins called an intentional foul on Tisdale for a push in the back.

"It was too well played, too hard fought,'' Illini coach Bruce Weber said. "You can't have that.''

Weber was later called for a technical while heckling Higgins, and the final seconds made this one look like a blowout in the box score, but it was a back-and-forth grudge match that made this series so entertaining.

Illinois fell to 10-3 overall. The Illini are idle until opening Big Ten Conference play at Iowa Wednesday (8 p.m., BTN).

"It was a totally different game that last Saturday,'' said Weber. "I'm not mad about this. We played with enthusiasm, energy and we fought. Saturday is where we let ourselves down. The most important game of the year is Iowa at Iowa.

"We didn't finish the half. We didn't finish the game. That's where we have to make improvement.''

Bowers beat the defense to the hoop, and there's no argument on the foul. Yet Weber's contention is there are plenty of intentional fouls at the end of a game not called.

"I don't like the intentional foul rule,'' Weber said during a brief appearance at the media podium. "I told the head of officials last year. There are so many intentional fouls they don't call. It shouldn't be in the (rule) book. It puts everybody in a bind. He probably made the right call, but it's not a good rule, in my opinion.''

With that, Weber left the podium after wishing the media a Merry Christmas. It's just another chapter in a series that keeps finding ways to thrill fans.

Missouri made two more free throws on the Weber technical to finish an eight-point run in 9.5 seconds. Missouri finished the game with a 21-7 run.

Forward Mike Davis had 17 points and eight rebounds while guard Demetri McCamey finished with 14 points and six assists. Tisdale scored nine points and grabbed 13 rebounds, but the Illini must regroup while getting three days off.

"On Saturday, we were just down,'' McCamey said. "It's that pain in your stomach. In this one, you feel down about losing, but you gave it your all. It's a little better. At the same time, you lost so you have that feeling in your gut.''

Missouri (11-1) likes to run, so it shouldn't be a surprise the Tigers attacked after Richardson's basket pulled the Illini within one.

"It's what we do,'' Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "If you notice, we push the ball every time. He was open. Make or miss, we're going to push the ball back at you.''

Illinois made a change in the starting lineup and found a boost from the return of Brandon Paul, who sprained his left ankle in the closing seconds of the loss against UIC.

Forward Jereme Richmond, who had a season-high 12 rebounds against the Flames, made his first start for the Illini.

Missouri ended the Illini's nine-year winning streak in the series last winter, and this was the first truly high level game between these two teams since the 2003-04 season. Illinois and Missouri met as ranked teams for the first time in seven years, and this was the first matchup in the college basketball season between a pair of 10-win teams.

Had it not been for the Illini's loss to Illinois-Chicago Saturday, these two teams might have met as top 10 teams for the first time since December, 2001. Illinois lost the momentum and goodwill banked through the season's first five weeks with the loss to the Flames, a 17-point underdog.

Against Missouri, Illinois played hard, but it wasn't enough to get over the hump.     Illinois report card Front court -- A Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis came to play. It's amazing how much different they were than the game against UIC.   Back court -- B Demetri McCamey had to work for his points. The Tigers were determined to get the ball out of his hands by trapping him in double teams. McCamey lost four turnovers against the constant    pressure.   Bench -- C Brandon Paul overcame a sprained left ankle to contribute, but his turnover late in the game hurt.   Overall -- B Illinois played hard. The Illini played tough. It wasn't enough to get over the hump. Missouri finished in the first half and exploded down the stretch.