After three straight losses in the SEC, Auburn may have just needed a return to a more familiar setting. Tonight at Auburn Arena, the Tigers took Missouri to task with some fantastic second-half shooting and ran Cuonzo Martin’s group out of the building 92-58.
Auburn began this ballgame looking like the team we thought we’d see at the start of the year, hitting their first five shots and building an 11-5 advantage. Unfortunately, Missouri bounced back and Auburn went cold for the next few minutes, making just four buckets in that span and watching the lead disappear. Missouri jumped ahead on a Jeremiah Tilmon dunk to go up 18-17, and Auburn needed a spark. They’d get it from Chuma Okeke with two threes, including one on a bank shot, and the orange and blue Tigers would take a 34-31 edge into the locker room.
Things heated up quickly in the second half. After Auburn hit just 5-21 three-pointers in the first half, the Tigers hit six in the first 5:27 of the second half to open up a 53-37 lead. Bryce Brown buried a pair of deep balls, Jared Harper got one off of a Brown steal, and even Horace Spencer hit his second three of the season to force Cuonzo Martin to take a timeout. Auburn went up by 20 points on a three from Malik Dunbar, and Danjel Purifoy’s first three of the game gave the Tigers a 25-point lead with 11:26 to go. At the under-8 timeout, Auburn led by 22 at 66-44 thanks to 62% shooting from behind the arc. The defense also paid dividends, forcing a ton of turnovers and speeding the game up, confusing the normally-deliberate Missouri Tigers. With about three minutes to play, a steal and a Jared Harper jam essentially closed the door, opening up a 26-point lead at the final timeout of the game. Auburn cruised and closed the door for a 92-58 victory to improve to 3-4 in the SEC with Alabama coming to town on Saturday.
Jared Harper led all scorers with 16 points despite just shooting 1-6 from three, while both Brown and Okeke had 14 points. Jeremiah Tilmon went for 15 points for Missouri on 6-8 shooting, but as a team the Tigers hit just 38% on the night, while Auburn went for 47%. Auburn will tip with Alabama this Saturday night at 7 pm CST at Auburn Arena as the Tigers try to get back to .500 in the SEC.