Frazier, Black lead Illinois to 70-64 win over Missouri

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Trent Frazier scored a career-high 22 points and Leron Black added 20 to lead Illinois to a 70-64 win over Missouri on Saturday night.

The Illini (9-5) have won five straight games in the annual pre-Christmas showdown.

Kassius Robertson paced the Tigers (10-3) with 22 points. Jordan Barnett added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Illinois leads the overall series 25-12 in games played in St. Louis.

Mark Smith added 11 points for Illinois, which won its first six games before losing five of its next seven, and Michael Finke scored 10.

Black scored 13 first-half points as the Illini took a 20-point lead into the break. Frazier hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 53 seconds for a 42-22 cushion.

Illinois used runs of 9-0 and 10-0 to roll out to a 19-5 lead.

Missouri, which had a five-game winning streak snapped, missed 10 of its first 12 shots and committed 14 turnovers on its first 29 possessions over the initial 16-plus minutes.

The Tigers got to within 66-62 in the final minute.

But Frazier hit a pair of fouls shots with 25 seconds left to push the lead to six.

CHEER CHAMPS

Missouri won the traditional Statue of Liberty cheerleader battle during a first-half time out. Three male-female duos from each school compete to see which can hold its partner aloft for the longest time.

Sophomore Zoe Montgomery and junior Christian Gentile were the last pair standing for the Tigers.

“It was crazy just to win the whole thing,” Montgomery said.

THE THRILL IS BACK

A ellout crowd of 21,289 witnessed the 37th edition of the annual pre-Christmas rivalry game on Saturday. A series-low 12,409 fans saw last year’s contest.

SO CLOSE

Illinois has held a second-half lead in all five of its losses this season. The Illini have had the ball and been either tied or held a lead in the final minute in three of those setbacks.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini grab some much-needed momentum heading into Big Ten Conference play. They dropped a 74-69 decision to New Mexico State on Dec. 16 and had lost five of their previous seven games heading into play on Saturday.

Missouri: The Tigers will look to get back on the winning track as they open Southeastern Conference play at the start of the New Year. They won five of their first six games.

UP NEXT

Illinois: Will host Grand Canyon on Saturday before opening Big Ten Conference play at Minnesota (Jan. 3) and at Michigan (Jan. 6)

Missouri: Begins Southeastern Conference play at South Carolina on Jan. 3