December 19, 2006

Tigers fight hard but fall short

A year ago, Missouri was blown off the floor in St. Louis by Illinois an 82-50 loser. On Tuesday night, the Tigers overcame clawed, fought and scratched their way to within three points of the Illini, falling 73-70 when Stefhon Hannah lost control of the ball in the final seconds as he went up for a potential game-tying three pointer.

"We knew they were going to have a different mentality this year," said Illinois forward Brian Randle. "They came in tonight expecting to win and they had a right to."

And for the Tigers, the overriding feeling was not pride that they had come close, but frustration that they had missed a chance to end a six-year losing streak to the Illini.

"We're not into moral victories," said Mike Anderson. "We came and we played to win."

That the Tigers nearly did that proved how far they have come not just in the last year, but in the last week-and-a-half. Mizzou's first game away from Columbia was a 79-62 thrashing at Purdue. This time, Missouri was in it until the final play.

"It showed me we're getting a lot better," said freshman Keon Lawrence. "In the second half, Purdue punched us and we didn't punch back. Tonight, we fought back. We fought."

"They're going in the right direction," Anderson said. "We're in the eleventh game of the season. This thing is not going to be built overnight. We knew that."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!