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Kobe Brown leads Missouri’s thumping of No. 16 Illinois

Dec 22, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  Missouri Tigers guard Kobe Brown (24) dunks against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the first half at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Fourth-year guard Kobe Brown set career highs with 31 points and eight assists to lead Missouri to a 93-71 nonconference romp over No. 16 Illinois Thursday night in the Braggin’ Rights Classic in St. Louis.

Brown established a record for points by a Missouri player in this heated 53-game rivalry as the Tigers (11-1) built a 35-point lead early in the second half. D’Moi Hodge scored 20 points and DeAndre Gholston added 15 as Missouri shot 59.3 percent from the field and 50 percent on 3-pointers.

Terrence Shannon Jr. paced Illinois (8-4) with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Matthew Mayer contributed 16 points. The Illini had to get hot late to finish at 40.3 percent from the floor and 22 percent from 3-point range.

The Tigers set the game’s tone with a 15-0 run midway through the first half that erased Illinois’ only lead of the night.

The Illini claimed a 12-10 lead on Dain Dainja’s nifty reverse layup at the 14:05 mark of the first half, but Missouri shut down Illinois for the next 5:39.

The Tigers forced the Illini into six errant shots — five from 3-point range — and five turnovers during the drought as the nation’s leading team in steals hounded the Illini all over the half-court.

Missouri turned several of those miscues into transition baskets — including a pair of Hodge 3-pointers that pushed the lead to 25-12 with 8:45 left in the half.

Illinois kept missing 3-pointers and turning over the ball while Missouri kept swishing 3-pointers. The Tigers scored 12 points in the final two minutes of the first half, led by 3-pointers from Hodge and Ronnie DeGray III and a jumper by Brown with his toes on the line, to carry a 51-27 lead into halftime.

In addition to hitting six 3-pointers to Illinois’ one in the first half, Missouri owned a 19-0 edge in points off turnovers.

The Tigers pushed the lead to 66-36 on Brown’s four-point play with 16:05 in the game. They twice extended their lead to 35 points, the second time on Hodge’s fast-break layup with 12:14 left.

–Field Level Media