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Cougars reaching top form

At the beginning of the season, Columbia College coach Bob Burchard said he was worried about his men’s basketball team winning one game, much less producing the 13-1 record and No. 15 ranking it has accumulated.

Considering Burchard has one losing record in his previous 15 seasons at Columbia College, that statement was probably hyperbole.

MU-Arkansas could boost economy $20M

SHREVEPORT, La. — Many Arkansas and Missouri fans won’t stay in Shreveport or Bossier City on Dec. 31, the night of the Independence Bowl.

They will be lodged in hotels and motels in other north Louisiana cities and towns, such as Ruston, Natchitoches, Mansfield and Minden.

Illini sink key shots

ST. LOUIS –- The bottom line in Missouri’s loss to Illinois on Tuesday was the free-throw line.

The Illini won bragging rights with a 71-70 win despite hitting only 57.6 percent of their foul shots.

Weak first half dooms Tigers

ST. LOUIS –- Missouri’s play in the second half was good enough to win, but unfortunately for the Tigers, their play in the first left much to be desired.

Furious play in the final 10 minutes from Missouri couldn’t make up for a sluggish first half as Illinois withstood a late rally to win its fourth straight in the Braggin’ Rights series 71-70 on Tuesday.

Cobbs endures for Razorbacks

In the first half of 2000, Cedric Cobbs could have been elected governor of Arkansas.

There were times later, though, when Cobbs hasn’t wanted to go inside a local gas station because of the piercing stares he might receive. The latter might be a more accurate image of his career.

Cardinals get financing for new stadium

ST. LOUIS — Capping a lengthy journey that included a flirtation with Illinois and a failed trip to Jefferson City in search of public financing, the St. Louis Cardinals said Tuesday the club has obtained the private money it needs to build a ballpark downtown.

Busch Stadium, which opened in 1966 and was home to history that included two World Series championships and Mark McGwire’s record setting 70th home run in 1998, will be demolished after the 2005 season. Work on the new stadium began Monday, and the $387.5 million ballpark is scheduled to open in April 2006.

Tigers’ guards struggle

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s search for a consistent point guard did not end Tuesday night.

The situation might have become murkier than it had been. Illinois’ Dee Brown overshowed the Tigers’ tandem of Jimmy McKinney and Randy Pulley in the first half, but McKinney improved his play in the second.

Illinois high on seniors’ priority list

The senior class of the Missouri men’s basketball team has an impressive 66-36 record in the past three seasons, but against annual nonconference opponent Illinois, the Tigers have lost all three matchups.

The Tigers’ seniors get their final chance a-gainst Illinois at 8 tonight in the Braggin’ Rights game at Savvis Center in St. Louis.

Ricker lines up for fitting finale vs. Razorbacks

It seems A.J. Ricker was destined to play in this year’s Independence Bowl. The only question was which side he would be on. Ricker, a senior center, has started all 46 games of his career at Missouri and is likely to make it 47 against Arkansas in the Independence Bowl at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 in Shreveport, La.

Starting from day one, Ricker has been the lynchpin of Missouri’s offensive line for four years, but he almost ended up a Razorback. Ricker committed to Arkansas in high school but changed his mind later and wound up a Tiger. In the end, Ricker’s desire to play early and often nudged him toward Missouri.

Big men bolster Tigers

The big players came up large for Missouri this time around.

A strong inside game helped No. 10 Missouri beat UNC-Greensboro 106-98 on Sunday at Hearnes Center. Center Arthur Johnson and forwards Travon Bryant and Linas Kleiza combined for 53 points in the victory.

Conley, Pulley don’t disappoint

Jason Conley started his Missouri career in impressive fashion.

With 14:06 left in the first half of Missouri’s 106-98 win against UNC-Greensboro, fans welcomed Conley’s first appearance as a Tiger with a standing ovation. Although he received the warm greeting before he had touched the court, Conley didn’t disappoint the 11,552 in attendance Sunday afternoon at Hearnes Center.

Bowl lets redshirts prepare for future

Every Missouri football player has one thing on his mind, preparing for a bowl game.

Most are getting ready for the Independence Bowl, but the Tigers’ freshmen and redshirt players are aiming for a trip to a bowl next season, too. Because of the Tigers’ trip to Shreveport this season, the young players are getting a head start on next season.

Rams streak past Bengals at home

ST. LOUIS — There is a homey feeling surrounding the St. Louis Rams recently, and it has little to do with the approaching holiday.

The Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10 on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome to secure a first-round bye for St. Louis (12-3) in the playoffs.

Past MU star helps Cincinnati improve

ST. LOUIS — Justin Smith is finally getting a taste of success again. Smith, a former Missouri defensive standout and Cincinnati’s starting right defensive end, endured plenty of losing in his first two years in the NFL.

After being selected as the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, Smith and the Bengals struggled to a 6-10 record in 2001 and went 2-14 last year. Coupled with losing seasons in each of his last two years at Missouri, the Bengals hunt to make the AFC playoffs this season has been a bright spot for Smith.

Tigers pull through in second half

It was the first time a Big 12 Conference team had played in Evansville, Ind., and the Purple Aces wanted Missouri to remember the experience.

The Missouri women’s basketball team defeated Evansville 78-72 on Sunday at Roberts Stadium in a game that was close throughout with eight ties and 11 lead changes.

Tigers’ defense not up to speed

Since the start of the season, Missouri coach Quin Snyder has said his team’s identity is its defense. The Tigers seem to be having an identity crisis, though, and it almost caught up with them Sunday as they outdid UNC-Greensboro 106-98.

Snyder said his team can’t afford an offensive race with every team. If the Tigers want to keep winning, Snyder said his team’s method has to change.

Learning experience

Competition crossed generations at the Rock Bridge Tournament of Champions on Saturday.

Rock Bridge coach John Kopnisky faced his father when the Bruins wrestled against Carmel (Ind.) and its coach, Bob Kopnisky, in the fourth round.

Newcomers to finally play

Today is the day Missouri basketball fans marked on their calendars months ago.

The debut of guard Jason Conley, NCAA record holder and scoring savant, has arrived. Add to that the unveiling of point guard Randy Pulley, who premiers after sitting out the first three weeks of the season.

Kowalewski sets mark

Saturday afternoon was bittersweet for Columbia College.

Junior guard Lisa Kowalewski broke the Cougars’ career scoring record, but Columbia College fell to Pittsburg State 83-75 at Hickman High.

Arkansas native Wyrick has his heart in Missouri

Monte Wyrick is a Tiger and a Razorback, but there’s no question where his loyalty lies.

Wyrick, a freshman offensive tackle for Missouri, has the inside information on Missouri’s Independence Bowl matchup against Arkansas at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 in Shreveport, La.

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