Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

You've Got to Hand It to Illinois - Mizzou Certainly Did

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

You've Got to Hand It to Illinois - Mizzou Certainly Did

Article excerpt

When Rich Grawer shows up at a basketball game in a glow-in-the-dark Missouri sweatshirt, you know it's a weird night.

In this case, it's just the annual Mizzou-Illinois Busch (Bizarre) Braggin' Rights game at Kiel Center.

Anyone wearing blue and orange would say Saturday night's installment was definitely won by their Fighting Illini 85-69. Anyone wearing black and gold would say the Tigers definitely lost this game, and in ways that defied reason. The record crowd of 22,371 saw more spectacles than just Grawer, the former Mizzou assistant who went 10 years as St. Louis U. head coach with nary a howdy-do from his old boss, Norm Stewart. Now Grawer is sending his son, Brian, a senior whiz at Pattonville High, to play the point for Mizzou next season. And not a moment too soon. The Tigers played Saturday night like they had sneakers on their hands. The official count was 16 turnovers - it seemed like many, many more - in the first half and 27 for the game. In an 80-second panic attack before intermission, Mizzou threw the ball away five consecutive times. Photographers, cheerleaders and popcorn vendors were diving for cover. Or looking for helmets. The Tigers, to a man, couldn't handle the Illinois press. "The mentality of the press is something new to us," said Illini center Chris Gandy. Not as new as it seemed to the Tigers. When in doubt, they heaved the ball up for grabs. Passes that somehow stayed inside Kiel's lower bowl usually ended up in Illinois hands. When a Mizzou player did figure out where to throw the ball, nobody in a friendly gold shirt could catch it. You couldn't fault the Tigers for innovation. In one stretch, 5-foot-11 senior Chip Walther worked inside, rebounding and drawing charging fouls, while 6-11 freshman Tate Decker ran the point. Coach Norm Stewart let Walther, the Cinderella walkon from John Burroughs School, start the big game in his hometown. The unflappable, thinking-man's playmaker then did the unthinkable. He flapped. At the half, Walther had five turnovers. He also had a team-high three rebounds. Anyone who can figure that out should move directly to the bonus brainteaser. …

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