Tigers handle Illini

Illinois' Mike Davis (24) heads to the basket as Missouri's Marcus Denmon (12) and Ricardo Ratliffe, rear, defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, in St. Louis. Missouri won 75-64.

Illinois' Mike Davis (24) heads to the basket as Missouri's Marcus Denmon (12) and Ricardo Ratliffe, rear, defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, in St. Louis. Missouri won 75-64.

Missouri got a chance to brag again, this time about its nine-second knockout punch.

Laurence Bowers made a four-point play with a layup and two free throws after an intentional foul with 40 seconds to go, fueling a huge final minute for the ninth-ranked Tigers in a 75-64 victory Wednesday night over No. 21 Illinois.

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Missouri's Kim English, left, passes around Illinois' Jereme Richmond during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, in St. Louis. Missouri won 75-64.

Missouri scored eight points in a nine-second span, breaking open a tie game to win the neutral-site ’Braggin Rights” matchup for the second straight year.

“It’s about how you finish games,” Bowers said. “And we finished well.”

Marcus Denmon had 15 points and Bowers added 13 points and nine rebounds. Justin Safford had 11 points for the Tigers (11-1), who before last year had lost nine in a row to Illinois. Michael Dixon, a sophomore who was reinstated after a two-game suspension for violating team rules, had 10 points and six assists and played 31 minutes off the bench.

“It felt amazing to come back in this type of atmosphere,” Dixon said. “I’ve never lost to Illinois and I don’t plan on losing to them ever.”

Mike Davis had 17 points and eight rebounds for Illinois (10-3), which has dropped two straight, including getting upset Saturday by Illinois-Chicago. Mike Tisdale, who committed the intentional foul when he pushed Bowers from behind, had 13 rebounds and nine points.

Davis scored only one point in the final 15 minutes.

Denmon was wide open for a layup on the ensuing inbounds pass about one second later for a six-point swing. A swing Illinois coach Bruce Weber complained was unjust.

“There’s so many intentional fouls at the end of the game, it just puts everybody in a bind,” Weber said. “He probably made the right call but it’s not a good rule in my opinion.

“There’s 1,000 of them in the game and they didn’t call them.”

A free throw by Bowers after a technical by Weber made it 70-61 with 30.7 seconds to go.

“Instead of panicking,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said, “we made plays.”

Illinois outrebounded Missouri 46-37 but missed too many close-in attempts and shot 38.6 percent overall.

“We should have made some layups, and we didn’t take care of the ball at the end,” Weber said.

Bowers’ four-point play came only two seconds after Illinois’ D.J. Richardson’s 3-pointer off Dixon’s turnover tied it at 61. Denmon took the inbounds pass shy of midcourt and whipped it ahead to Bowers for a layup, and Tisdale was whistled for an intentional foul after putting both hands on Bowers’ back under the basket.

Denmon missed his first five shots but his 3-pointer with 25 seconds to go in the half tied it at 27. Missouri scored the last seven points of the half and extended the run to 15-2 early in the second half, going ahead 35-29.

Missouri is back in action Monday night at home against Northern Illinois. Game time is 7 p.m.

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