There's ugly, and then there's the way Auburn played in this game tonight against Missouri. The Tigers had near double-digit turnovers in the first half alone, were shooting horribly, fouling all over the place, and yet they were still only down by one point at the half. That's with Mizzou - normally a 29% 3-point team - shooting 50% from beyond the arc in the first half.
This game got a little chippy and ugly at times. Mizzou was called for a technical on a thrown elbow that actually was directed at the ref. Mustapha Heron and a Mizzou player were given double-Ts for jawing at each other. Mizzou's Jordan Geist was given a Flagrant 1 in the 2nd half for an elbow at Bryce Brown. Then Ronnie Johnson was given a technical for tripping over a Mizzou player.
To say this game was poorly officiated would be putting it mildly. That goes both ways. They were calling everything to the point that even national writers who don't cover Auburn were pointing it out.
Hey, look, a game refereed by Pat Adams has spiraled out of control.— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) March 9, 2017
This has never happened.
Auburn, while trailing most of the first half, played a bit better in the early second half. The Tigers built a lead, but couldn't pull away from Mizzou. When you're playing a team with nothing to play for but their coach who is in his final game(s), that's a dangerous thing.
The good news for Auburn was that Bryce Brown was on fire from beyond the arc in the 2nd half. The game stayed fairly close even as whistles kept blowing with fouls all over the place. Auburn still had some really dumb turnovers to let Mizzou stick around.
There was a touching moment for Mizzou's Kim Anderson and his embrace of Terrence Phillips who fouled out with 5 minutes or so to play. At the time, it looked like this was going to be the end for Anderson with Auburn having built a decent lead. Anderson may not have been a great coach for Mizzou, but he definitely seems like a great guy.
What a great moment for Kim Anderson & Terrence Phillips. pic.twitter.com/aRJLRHCemN— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) March 9, 2017
In typical 2017 Auburn fashion, even after building a decent lead, they couldn't just put the other team away. Auburn got sloppy, then fouled Geist on a 3-pointer when Auburn had a 6 point lead with 1:21 to play. Thankfully, he only hit on 2 of the 3.
With 41.1 seconds to play and down by 4, Mizzou finally had to resort to fouling. Jared Harper only hit 1 of 2, but then Mizzou's three-point shooting finally started regressing to the mean. They missed a 3 and then had to foul Harper again. He, again, only made 1 of 2. Then, of course, with 26.3 seconds to go and leading by 6, Auburn left Cullen VanLeer hit his 5th open 3 of the game to cut the lead to 3 with 16.8 to play. VanLeer, by the way, is normally not a great shot from 3. But #ThisIsAuburn.
To keep things going that way, Auburn then had an offensive foul called on Jared Harper to give Mizzou the ball. How it was a foul I don't know and it was a ridiculous call for the ref to make at that point, but LOL PAT ADAMS. They tied the game on a 3 with 1.8 seconds to play. To make it even worse, Auburn had a horrific inbound that resulted in Geist getting off a half-court shot that could have won the game.
Both teams started with points in the OT. Auburn then fed the ball to Wiley for a monster dunk before both teams traded three possessions with no points. Auburn finally extended its lead with TJ Dunans going 1 of 2 from the free-throw line, but the lead was only 3 points, something Mizzou immediately tied up, of course.
Auburn had chances on their end of the floor, but couldn't score. So, the game was tied up at 83 with 15.3 seconds to play and Mizzou's ball. So, of course, they were able to hit the final shot and win the game.
With that, I think you can call Auburn's 2016-17 basketball season over. I don't think this is a team that would garner attention from the lower-tier postseason tournaments, nor do I think they should take an invitation to one even if they were invited. We'll have a further post-mortem on this one in the days to come.
I said at the beginning of the season that free-throw shooting would haunt Auburn at some point. Auburn was atrocious from the line, tonight, even when shooting foul shots on technicals. Make even one more of those and Auburn wins in regulation.
What a weird, sometimes fun, almost always frustrating, and mind-numbingly heart-pounding season for Auburn Basketball. The future is still very bright, but there are some things that really need to be fixed before next season begins.