Illini have 9-game 'Braggin' Rights' streak -

Illini have 9-game 'Braggin' Rights' streak

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Illinois' nine-game winning streak in the annual "Braggin' Rights" game is not weighing heavily on Missouri players. Not at all.

Sophomore guard Marcus Denmon was on the losing end of a 75-59 rout last December, and that's all he knows heading into Wednesday night's annual holiday season matchup.

"I mean, I wasn't here," Denmon said. "Right now, I'm 0-1 against them."

Illinois (8-3) knocked Missouri out of the Top 25 last year, leads the neutral site series 20-8 and last lost in 1999 when Lon Kruger and Quin Snyder prowled the sidelines.

"In this particular game, we haven't had much to brag about," said Missouri coach Mike Anderson, who is 0-3 against Illinois. "Of course, they have a lot to do with that.

"It's going to be a big challenge, but I think it's something our guys are looking forward to."

Illinois isn't in much of a bragging mood after losing 70-67 at Georgia on Saturday to end a four-game winning streak.

"We have a bad taste in our mouth at this point for the other night, especially after we thought we had made some progress," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "We took a step backwards, there's no doubt about that."

Weber won't crow about Illinois' dominance in the series, either.

"Winning the game is important," he said. "I don't think the streak is."

Missouri (7-3) is coming off an 88-70 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday and has one of the youngest teams in the nation, with 11 of 13 players in their first or second season and more than two-thirds of the scoring coming from freshmen and sophomores.

Illinois has a blend of experience and youth, with four players averaging in double figures led by Demitri McCamey at 14.2 points. Freshmen D.J. Richardson (10.8) and Brandon Paul (10.4) also are heavy contributors. The Fighting Illini are shooting 49 percent.

Missouri has replaced the top two scorers from last season's Elite Eight team, DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons. But Weber expects the Tigers to force the action as usual while launching more 3-pointers.

Kim English averages 16.1 points while shooting 39 percent from 3-point range, and six others are averaging 7.6 points or better.

"It's still the same style of play that Mike has had, that he's always brought to the table -- chaotic, pressing, continuously trapping and pushing the ball," Weber said. "Hopefully, our guys will be up to the task."

Missouri is 6-0 at home with an average winning margin of 37 points, and has a 25-game winning streak in the Mizzou Arena. But it's 1-3 on the road and at neutral sites. Illinois' profile is similar, 7-0 at home and 1-3 elsewhere.

"We've had bad starts to games. We've had bad starts to second halves," Weber said. "That's got to change, the mental preparation of it."

Weber expects no problems getting his team prepared for this one.

"You play in your career 120, 130 games, and there's a handful that you always remember," Weber said. "I still remember my first one. I just kind of sat there in amazement of the environment at the game, the fans around town, the fans after the game. It's a big deal. I hope our guys realize it."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Powered by Frankly