Illinois and Mizzou battling for poll recognition in St. Louis

By Jeremy Werner

Though Illinois is riding an eight-game winning streak into the Busch Braggin’ Rights series, head coach Bruce Weber is well aware that the 2008-09 version of the Missouri Tigers won’t be dwelling in

the past on Tuesday night at the Scottrade Center.

“I said the other night that history has nothing to do with what happens Tuesday night,” Weber said. “We got to come and it’s a big game for us, not only because it’s the Braggin’ Rights game and everybody gets fired up about it, because also it’s a chance for us to get a marquee weekend. Maybe we can slip into the top 25 or get more

votes and help us down the road for an NCAA Tournament selection.”

Illinois is 19-8 all-time in the Busch Braggin’ Rights series in St. Louis, including a 59-58 win last season. The Illini (10-1) head to St. Louis with the mindset that a win over Missouri could be the

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

signature nonconference win they need to build an NCAA Tournament resume.

The Illini’s lone loss came to another team of Tigers, No. 25 Clemson. The Missouri Tigers (9-1) could pose similar problems in the post for Illinois. Senior forwards Demarre Carroll and Leo Lyons average a

combined 33.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game.

“They present a big problem because Mike Tisdale, especially, is not quite as mobile,” Weber said. “It will be a challenge for him and Richard Semrau, Mike Davis and Dominique (Keller) to match up with

those guys.”

Missouri (9-1) beat then-No. 20 USC 82-71 on Nov. 23, with the Tigers’ lone setback coming in a 75-71 loss to No. 7 Xavier on Nov. 20.

Weber said improvement on the glass and better performances from sophomores Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis are necessary for an Illini victory. Davis and McCamey are the team’s leading scorers this season, averaging 13.0 and 12.4 points per game, respectively, but the sophomores combined for just 11 points before being benched to start the second half against Detroit-Mercy on Saturday.

“We’ve talked. You got to play, you got to be ready to play. You can’t have excuses,” Weber said of McCamey and Davis, who he has said could be two of the best players on the team with consistent work ethic. “All those excuses, other teams don’t care, fans don’t care. You only have 30-some opportunities a year and you got to come ready to play. That’s what we’re trying to get out of those guys.”

Tuesday’s matchup will be only the seventh time in the 28-year series that neither team will be nationally ranked. Both teams are receiving votes in this week’s AP poll but a win could set up either team to

climb into the national rankings.

“Obviously, the atmosphere is unbelievable, and the intensity level of the game is one of the highest of the year,” Weber said.

“It’s a huge game. I hope (the players) understand that, but it’s also a huge game for Missouri. They were talking about it. I’m sure they’ll be ready to play at a high level also.”

The Daily Illini will be traveling to St. Louis to cover the game on Tuesday as long as the weather cooperates. Columnist Ryan Dixon will provide a live blog for game updates and analysis. A game recap and

reactions will provided at the conclusion of the game. So keep your browser refreshed to for all your Braggin’ Rights