Illini moment of the Year: Rayvonte Rice Braggin’ Rights buzzer beater

Illinois%27+Rayvonte+Rice+%2824%29+takes+the+game-winning+shot+during+the+game+against+Missouri+at+Scottrade+Center+in+St.+Louis%2C+Missouri+on+Dec.+20%2C+2014.+The+Illini+won+62-59.
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Illini moment of the Year: Rayvonte Rice Braggin’ Rights buzzer beater

Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (24) takes the game-winning shot during the game against Missouri at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Dec. 20, 2014. The Illini won 62-59.

Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (24) takes the game-winning shot during the game against Missouri at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Dec. 20, 2014. The Illini won 62-59.

Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (24) takes the game-winning shot during the game against Missouri at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Dec. 20, 2014. The Illini won 62-59.

Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (24) takes the game-winning shot during the game against Missouri at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Dec. 20, 2014. The Illini won 62-59.

By Peter Bailey-Wells

Editor’s note: The Daily Illini sports desk sat down during its last meeting of the year and voted on the moment in the Illini sports calender that was the most noteworthy.

When Rayvonte Rice stuck his foot in the hardwood and bounced back behind the 3-point line, his defender seemed to freeze.  

It was as if the senior Illini guard had paused the Scottrade Center with a remote control. The defenders didn’t move, the coaches didn’t move and the orange-clad Illinois fans behind the basket stood stock still, their hearts in their mouths.

Then Rice hit play, rose up over two defenders and buried a 3-point dagger to give the men’s basketball team a 62-59 win over Missouri in the annual Braggin’ Rights game in St. Louis.

Decked out in Flyin’ Illini throwback uniforms, Illinois players streamed off the bench and mobbed Rice on the floor in front of the scorer’s table. The team was wildly inconsistent against the Tigers that night — the Illini’s largest lead of the game was six points and they finished 4-of-18 from 3-point land. The Tigers tied the game with 17.8 seconds left, but Rice would dribble out every last second of the Illini’s possession before sealing the game.

The win was the second in a row in the series for Illinois and improved the team’s record to 9-3.

The three was Rice’s second of the game and was the biggest shot of his two-year Illinois career.

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@pbaileywells