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Tip-Off Countdown: #33 Auburn 81 Missouri 71

The March through the SEC Tournament begins!

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Auburn vs Missouri Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

March 14, 2019 - Bridgestone Arena: Nashville

SEC Tournament 2nd Round

Auburn came into the SEC Tournament with a ton of momentum, having won their last 4 regular season games to propel them all the way to the 5th seed in the SEC Tournament after being around the 8/9 mark going into the Georgia game 2 weeks prior.

The first opponent in Nashville was 12th seed Missouri and a chance to do what they couldn’t do the last time they played in Bridgestone Arena and that was end Missouri’s season.

Chuma Okeke would pick up right where he left off scoring the first 5 points on the afternoon, courtesy of a pair of layups, one resulting in a 3-point play. But Chuma picked up 2 fouls in the first 4 minutes and didn’t play the rest of the half.

Auburn struggled offensively through the first 8 minutes being held to single digits before Anfernee McLemore would knock down Auburn’s first 3 of the game to make it 13-12 Mizzou.

Auburn started finding a bit of offensive rhythm midway through the 1st half, as Malik Dunbar knocked down Auburn’s 2nd 3 of the game and then J’Von McCormick stepped up in had some huge minutes off the bench while Jared Harper dealt with foul trouble. I believe this is the first time I used #VintageJVon in a tweet but his tough bucket in the paint put Auburn ahead 19-18 with 9 minutes left in the half.

With the usual scoring leaders struggling for offense, it was role players such as McCormick, McLemore, Dunbar and Horace Spencer stepping up in that first half. A dunk from Spencer and another tough layup for McCormick would put Auburn ahead 23-21. On the next possession, Anfernee would hit his 2nd 3 of the game.

A couple minutes later with the score still 26-21 Auburn, we had our first #ClassicMalik moment of the SEC Tournament as the Missouri defenders clearly made a business decision on this play.

A layup from Danjel Purifoy capped off an 11-0 run for Auburn as they led 30-21 with 4 minutes left in the half. Mizzou would go on a 9-0 run to tie it but McCormick hit his third layup in the paint with 30 seconds left in the half to give Auburn a 32-30 lead. The Tigers led despite a combined 0 points from Bryce Brown and Jared Harper.

Before that, Chuma Okeke would return to the game and get Auburn on the board the same way he did in the 1st half, converting a 3-point play. A steal from Harper would lead to another 3 from Dunbar on the next possession giving Auburn a 38-33 lead.

And then 2nd Half Bryce arrived and as we all know... once he gets hot, look out!

With the score 40-37 with just over 16 minutes left, Bryce Brown would get in the scoring column knocking down a 3-pointer and would hit his 2nd 45 seconds later to give Auburn a 46-39 lead.

He went over 350 career made 3-pointers during the sequence as well but Bryce wasn’t done shooting. After another steal from Harper on the next Mizzou possession, he would find Brown again and his 3rd 3 in 78 seconds gave Auburn a 10-point lead with 14:48 to go.

Missouri wouldn’t go away responding with an 8-0 run before Samir Doughty hit a 3 to stop the run. Mizzou would tie the game at 52 but a 3-point play from Spencer who was all over the place on both sides of the floor in this game, put Auburn back in front.

This started a 9-0 Auburn run as the Tigers would get 3s from Danjel Purifoy and a 4th 2nd half 3 from Brown to push the lead back to 61-52 with 8;15 to go. Missouri showed a lot of resolve hanging in though and this was a 5-point game with 4 minutes left, 68-63.

Jared Harper went nearly 37 minutes into this game without scoring but knocked down a corner 3 with 3:12 to go for his only bucket of the game.

With Auburn ahead 73-68 with less than 2 minutes to go, Bryce Brown would deliver the knockout punch to Missouri hitting his 5th 3 of the game and half. Auburn would hang on from there but they were tested in their first game in Nashville. Auburn survived a game in which Missouri shot an Auburn-like 15-30 from 3.

Bryce Brown scored 17 points to lead Auburn, all in the 2nd half, and was 5-10 from 3-point range. Chuma Okeke had 12 points and 5 rebounds. Malik Dunbar had 11 points.

Horace Spencer had a double-double in this one: 11 points, 10 rebounds and also had 4 blocks and 4 steals.

Here are the highlights!

The win put Auburn into the Quarterfinals against 4th seeded South Carolina.