Originally written December 21, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
ST. LOUIS Illinois guard Brandon Paul has had plenty of memorable games during his time in Champaign. He scored 43 points in an upset win over No. 5 Ohio State last year and had 35 points in a big road win at No. 10 Gonzaga just two weeks ago. Hed likely trade a scoreless game Saturday if it meant getting his first Braggin Rights win over the Missouri Tigers. Paul and Illinois seniors D.J. Richardson and Tyler Griffey will look to end a three-game losing streak to Missouri and get their first win over the rival Tigers in their final chance when they meet at the Scottrade Center Saturday evening in the 32nd annual Bud Light Braggin Rights game. No doubt, Paul said. Its definitely a motivation factor coming in. You try to prepare for every game the same and treat every opponent as a great opponent and you respect everyone but these are the types of games you really get up for. It would obviously be great to get this game, being a senior to be able to look back and say you got at least one of them. Nobody on the Illini roster has experienced a win over Missouri thanks to the Tigers taking the last three. Saturday will be the third consecutive year that both teams are ranked and the second in which the teams have combined to lose only one game. Illinois and first-year coach John Groce enter with a perfect 12-0 record and a No. 10 ranking in the Associated Press poll. They beat Butler in the championship game to win the prestigious Maui Invitational last month before winning in impressive fashion at No. 10 Gonzaga on Dec. 8. But a win over No. 12 Missouri would certainly give them another signature win come NCAA Tournament time. The Tigers are ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press poll and enter with a 9-1 record, their only blemish a 81-65 loss at then-No. 2 Louisville on Nov. 23. Its been a work in progress for Missouri and second-year coach Frank Haith, who starts two senior transfers and a third senior in Laurence Bowers who missed all of last season with a knee injury. But junior guard Phil Pressey has been the key, averaging 12.3 points and 5.8 assists through the first ten games. Ive known Frank for a long time, Groce told the Belleville News Democrat Thursday. I know his kids will be ready to play. He did a terrific job last year and has done a good job molding a lot of new faces. As I watch them, theres really only one guy in Pressey who played in last years Braggin Rights game. Bowers did two years ago, but the rest of those guys are new guys. Ive enjoyed watching them. Theyre very good; theyre very talented. Its going to take a heck of an effort on our part to compete on Saturday. A lot of it comes down to execution. A lot of it comes down to players making plays. The Tigers will have to find a way to slow Paul if they plan to keep him winless in the series. The talented guard is averaging a team best 18.8 points per game and is hitting 46 percent of his shots from the field. Paul has hit 33-of-83 shots from behind the 3-point line, an impressive 40 percent clip. Richardson and Tracy Abrams both contribute 11.5 points per game for Illinois while Griffey, a St. Louis native, adds 8.9 points. Joseph Bertrand is averaging 8.6. The 6-8 Bowers leads Missouri with 16.3 points per game while Alex Oriakhi, a senior transfer from UConn, has been a nice addition with 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Illinois leads the all-time series 27-15 but holds just an 11-10 advantage the past 21 years. Missouri is looking to win four straight for the first time since 1991-94. Paul and the Illinois seniors hope to keep that from happening. Ive heard them talking about it, Groce told the Belleville News Democrat. Theyre aware of that. The only thing I would say, regardless of what their record is previously (against Mizzou), Ive got news for them: It aint changing. It really has no effect on Saturday nights game. This is a separate game than the other three that they played. A sellout crowd is expected yet again for what has become an annual cant miss game near Christmas. The Tigers won a thrilling 78-74 game over the Illini last year and this years matchup of highly ranked squads figures to be another instant classic. Its definitely one of the most incredible atmospheres Ive seen, Paul said. Its a blessing to get to play in this game every year. Its just crazy. Its almost indescribable. We can say all we want but once you finally get to the Scottrade Center and see the fans out there, its a great moment. Tipoff between the two rivals is scheduled for 5 p.m.

What to watch in the NL Wild Card game

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Larry Donnell benches himself in fantasy, loses because of it

Josh Gordon says NFL’s drug policy is harrassment

Steve Smith: Ron Rivera hid in his office after cutting me

Rondo hoping for an opening night return from broken hand


Jon Gruden on Raiders job: 'I'm not thinking about coaching'

Tom Brady defends not congratulating Garoppolo on TD

Ohio State student who ran on field loses full scholarship

Report: Carson Palmer's nerve injury 'still lingering'

Adam Dunn to retire after 14-year MLB career

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision, will learn from it

WATCH: Mayweather shocked someone doesn’t know who he is

Who is the new face of MLB?

NHL 15 predicts the LA Kings win the Cup again

J.J. Watt buys his mom a new car for her birthday

Ranking the NFL coaches already sitting on the hot seat

WATCH: Smith tells Panthers to go home and mow his lawn

The best games on the NFL slate in Week 5

Aaron Rodgers says smoking gesture a tribute to Jay Cutler

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

Major League Baseball's 2014 All-Disappointment Team

Jeter introduces 'The Players Tribune,' 'The Voice of the Game'

Grading each NFL's team's play at quarter-season mark

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

What to watch in the NL Wild Card game

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Donnell benches himself in fantasy and loses

Gordon: Drug policy is harrassment

Who is the new face of baseball?

Steve Smith blasts Panthers coach, GM

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

All-Disappointment Team in MLB

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision

WATCH: Brett Favre in new commercial

Brady snubs rookie after TD pass

FCC: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.