By BRIAR Napier, The Associated Press
Columbia, Mo. (AP) – Jeremiah Tillamon’s three-point game lifted 54-53 over second-placed No. 14 Missouri over Bradley on Tuesday night.
With four for the bottom eight minutes, Missouri (6–0) closed out by a 6–0 run in the final 1:33 and spoiled Bradley’s upset bid in a dramatic manner.
On the Tigers’ final possession, Xavier Pinson found Tillamon in the post on the left block. With time running short, Tillman Power put in the basket and dishonored Eliza Childrens, finishing through contact and earning a trip to the free throw line with a chance to win the game.
Tillmon fired foul, and Mitchell Smith grabbed two inbound passes from the Braves (6-3) to bring him.
Regarding Bradley, a two-time defender who was Missouri’s coach conference champion, Missouri coach Quonzo Martin said, “They are a team that grinds you.” “They are going to grind it out, so we had to play sound rescue on the bus and without a rescue. And we did enough to win the basketball game.”
The decisive bucket added a strong second half for Tillamon. The big man from East St. Louis, Illinois, finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds after having only one point and three rebounds in halftime.
“I wasn’t playing as hard as I was going to play,” Tillmon said. “It was up to me to just step up and just work hard and just play hard games so that we can dub.”
Pinson defeated the Tigers with 15 points.
Missouri led at the break 21–19, when the teams scored a combined 15 for 70 (21%) in the first half, including 2 for 24 from 3-point range. Pins was responsible for both.
Bradley was much better in the second half, going 15 for 27 from the field. The Childrens converted on a three-point play and Ville Tahvanainen gave up a 50-42 lead with 3:44 to go to the Braves with 3. Tehvanain’s deep ball was one of just two Braves all night.
Missouri fought back, trailing two with a margin of 48.4 seconds left on two free throws by Mark Smith. After a defensive stop, the Tigers ran some of the clock before Mark Smith missed a 3-pointer contest. Bradley’s Jason Kent missed the 1-and-1 front end after being fouled by Javon Pickett, leading to Tillamon’s game-winning game.
“I was just telling myself to calm down,” Tilmon said of his go-ahead free throw. “I was still a little bit irritated by the basket making. … I was just thinking, ‘routine, routine.’ He (assistant) coach (Chris) Hollander tells me every time I shoot the ball. “
Children had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks for Bradley. Kent scored 11 runs.
Bradley: The Braves had a chance to lose in a 20-game losing streak. This was the second time this season Bradley came up short against an opponent who is currently undefeated and is in the top 25. The Braves lost 51–50 to Xavier on November 26, which is now at number 22.
Missouri: Martin is set to make his best debut as a coach after opening 10–0 with Missouri State in 2010.
Missouri had the worst shooting of the season, scoring 63 of the field (25%). The 3-for-21 clip (14%) from the 3-point area was the Tigers’ second-worst mark under Martin.
Bradley: The Missouri Valley Conference begins after recess starting.
Missouri: December 30 opens SEC slate against No. 8 Tennessee at home.
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