Bowers lifts No. 12 Missouri over No. 10 Illinois

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm •  Published: December 22, 2012
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Oriakhi, who had his fourth double-double of the season, was impressed with Brown's effort.

"He's unbelievable. He did a little bit of everything tonight," Oriakhi said. "I can't believe he's fit in so fast. He's one of us now."

Brown played in two games at Oregon last season before deciding to transfer. He watched last season's Braggin' Rights game from his home in Oakland and was intrigued by the atmosphere, which annually features a sellout crowd with the fans divided equally between the schools.

"I had visited (Missouri) and really hadn't made a decision, but I thought, if I choose (Missouri), that's going to be a fun game to play in," Brown said.

Missouri coach Frank Haith was more than pleased with the performance of his new addition. He immediately moved Brown into the starting lineup after a 12-point performance against South Carolina State, in which Brown excelled defensively.

"It was all about our balance," Haith said. "And he can do a lot of things."

The physical game against Illinois featured 19 lead changes, 35 fouls and 43 free throws.

"They've got a lot of depth and they've got size," Illinois first-year coach John Groce said. "They're good now. They've got a chance to get even better moving forward."

The Tigers scored 12 of the final 16 points in the first half to take a 41-35 lead into the break. Illinois reeled off eight unanswered points midway through the second half to go up 51-50 on a driving layup by Tracy Abrams. The Illini took their biggest lead of the second half, 64-61, on a baseline jumper by Egwu with 6:43 remaining.

But the Missouri defense took over from there, forcing seven successive Illinois misses. Brown, Ross, Tony Criswell and Pressey chipped in with key baskets.

Illinois managed only three field goals in the final 3:29.