ST. LOUIS (WCIA) — Illinois basketball didn’t have much to brag about in their annual Braggin’ Rights game against Missouri on Saturday. The Tigers claimed their second straight win in the series, beating the Illini 63-56.
It was a sloppy day for the Illini who were outplayed by the Tigers in all aspects. The Illini could not get the offense going, shooting just 36% from the field, while Mizzou shot 42.6% percent.
The Tigers also out-rebounded the Illini 36-32, but one of the biggest margins came from second-chance points. Even with 12 offensive rebounds, The tigers outscored the Illini 16-6 on put-back buckets. The 17 turnovers for the Orange and Blue didn’t help either–six came from forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili, it’s the most he’s committed all season.
“I just made bad reads, I was horrible. let my team down, but what can I do now? Just work harder and get better,” says Bezhanishvili. “Personally I just think I let them down, the whole team. But right now I just got to get better, watch some film, and do whatever I have to do personally and as a team.”
“It’s just being ball tough, he dribbled one, and they took one from him, and we threw couple cross-court passes, and they got very uncharacteristic,” says head coach Brad Underwood. “It’s just decision making, and [Mizzou] we’re part of some of it, but not as much the turnovers as just the lack of ball movement.”
The Illini are now averaging more than 15 turnovers per game, the most in the Big Ten. They also remain without a non-conference win against a high-major opponent. Saturday’s game was their last chance, after losing to Miami and Arizona earlier this season. This puts a few bumps in the road as they try earn NCAA tournament eligibility for the first time since 2013, but Underwood doesn’t see it that way. In fact, to him it’s just another mark in the column.
“I don’t put any more emphasis on this one than I do the 18 that are coming,” says Underwood. “I look at it as 40 minutes of a long season, and we’re going to have plenty of opportunities, we have to do some things better, and I’m not very happy with 4 assists and 17 turnovers, but we can correct some of that in practice.”
The Illini will be back in action Sunday, December 29th at the State Farm Center against North Carolina A&T. The Illini tip-off at 1 p.m. for their last non-conference game of the season. They start non-stop Big Ten play against Michigan State on January 2nd, 2020.