ST. LOUIS — Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two players who once planned to play for Illinois, helped Missouri beat the Illini 79-63 on Saturday night at the Enterprise Center.
Tilmon scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Pickett added 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting for Missouri (8-3), which broke a five-game losing streak to Illinois (4-8). Tilmon and Pickett signed letters of intent with Illinois in high school, but they changed their minds after a coaching change and ultimately signed with Missouri.
Jordan Geist led the Tigers with 20 points.
Trent Frazier led Illinois with 28 points. Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Aaron Jordan added 10 points apiece.
Geist and Frazier carried their teams early. Frazier made 5 of 6 from 3-point range and had 17 points at halftime. Geist hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions and drew two charges to help the Tigers grab a 39-35 halftime lead.
Frazier put Illinois in front for the first time since the first half when he drove to the left block and kissed a shot off the glass with 7:43 left in the game. But Tilmon put Missouri right back in the lead at 58-56 with a dunk and free throw on the next possession, and the Tigers pulled away.
Illinois: The Illini are off to their worst start since the 1974-75 season, when they also started 4-8 on their way to an 8-18 mark in Gene Bartow’s only season as coach. With eight scholarship newcomers on the roster and a nonconference schedule loaded with high-major opponents, the rough start hasn’t been totally unexpected.
Missouri: Hopes shrank for the Tigers when do-it-all sophomore forward Jontay Porter suffered a season-ending knee injury in an October scrimmage. After starting the season 3-3, they have won five straight — including victories over UCF, Xavier and now Illinois — raising the possibility that this won’t be the rebuilding season many expected.
Illinois: The Illini return to action Saturday with a home game against Florida Atlantic.
Missouri: The Tigers will complete their nonconference schedule with Saturday’s home game against Morehead State.