Another SEC game, another tough loss for Auburn. In a game that featured seemingly constant lead changes, Our Tigers fell at home, 70-68, to Missouri on Saturday. Despite a solid effort, poor free throw shooting, poor rebounding and poor officiating did Tony Barbee's team in.
KT Harrell led the Tigers (8-5, 0-2 SEC) with 27 points, making 9-of-17 shots from the floor and finishing two points short of his career best. Harrell added five rebounds, an assist and a steal, and turned it over twice. Chris Denson, the SEC's leading scorer entering the game, poured in 11 on 4-of-10 shooting, and he did a nice job of getting to the free throw line. However, he wasn't able to take advantage of many opportunities, converting on just 3-of-10 foul shots. Tahj Shamsid-Deen added 13 points, and little-used Alex Thompson, getting solid minutes due to an injury to Allen Payne and Chris Griffin's suspension, knocked down two threes and scored eight. He was averaging 0.2 points per game before Saturday.
Guard Jordan Clarkson paced Mizzou (13-2, 1-1), scoring 20 points on 6-of-11 shots from the field and 8-of-11 from the foul line. Former Auburn Tiger Earnest Ross, who was consistently booed and taunted by the student section, chipped in with 16, and Jabari Brown scored 15.
Auburn trailed, 70-67, with 25.6 seconds left and brought the ball in from halfcourt. The Tigers weren't able to find an open look from outside the arc, and Denson finally drove to the basket, drawing a foul with 5.0 remaining. He made 1-of-2 free throws, and after Their Tigers' Torren Jones pulled down the rebound, he stepped on the baseline, giving Auburn another chance with 2.9 seconds left. Shamsid-Deen threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Brown, who thought time would run out and traveled and stepped out of bounds with roughly 1 second showing on the clock. However, the referees missed the call and refused to review the play.
Auburn was in foul trouble for most of the game, and backup center Matthew Atewe picked up his fifth with 8:12 remaining in the game and was assessed a technical for inadvertently bumping an official. Thompson, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum and Jordon Granger finished with four fouls. Shamsid-Deen and Dion Wade had three, and Harrell and Denson committed two personals.
Mizzou took advantage of its chances at the line, making 31-of-41 free throws (75.6). Auburn was 14-of-26 (53.8 percent). From the field, Our Tigers outshot Their Tigers, 43.4 percent to 32.7 percent. Auburn was slightly better from three, hitting 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) while Missouri made 5-of-15 (33.3 percent).
Mizzou killed Auburn on the glass all day, winning the rebounding battle 44-28 overall and 20-9 on the offensive end. Still, Our Tigers played with intensity on the defensive end in their 2-3 zone, racking up eight blocks and seven steals and forcing 15 Missouri turnovers. After turning it over 18 times against Ole Miss on Thursday, Auburn improved and gave it away 10 times on Saturday.
Our Tigers return to action Wednesday night against Tennessee. Tipoff from Knoxville is set for 6 p.m. CT, and the game will air on CSS.