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GAME RECAP: #1 Auburn 55, Missouri 54

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NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

It’s very important when you’re hungover that you hydrate, eat something greasy, and make sure to get plenty of rest. Maybe of the utmost importance is not falling asleep on your back and vomiting all over yourself and asphyxiating to death. Auburn came into tonight’s game against Missouri in Columbia supremely hungover and trying to stay steady against a team that had plenty of motivation to play well at home.

Missouri had shown the ability earlier in the season, especially at Mizzou Arena, to play above what their record had shown. They’d beaten Alabama and lost a tough, close game to Texas A&M. As it is after tonight, they’re still going to get meme’d quite hard, but the slim 55-54 win by Auburn may have been the best possible outcome for Bruce Pearl.

Auburn played what was by far its worst game of the season, and Missouri came in with a fantastic strategy to muddy up the game, and the Tigers (good ones) had their worst shooting performance of the year as well. With Jabari Smith only hitting 2-15 shots for 5 total points, and Wendell Green, Allen Flanigan, and Walker Kessler combining for an 8-25 night, this would’ve been the perfect night for Auburn to finally lose. Instead, K.D. Johnson stepped up with 17 points, including two buckets late to clinch the win for Auburn. With scoring at a premium, also noticeable was the effort by Devan Cambridge, who snagged nine offensive rebounds in the second half alone, and hustled on defense throughout the game.

This game was extremely tough, with the black and gold Tigers building a quick 12-2 lead and hitting four threes early. Missouri came into the game 343rd in the country in three-point shooting, but they were hot to begin the game. Auburn finally pulled close on a Wendell Green three midway through the first half to make it 18-15 Mizzou, but the home team ran out a 9-point lead right away at 24-15. K.D. Johnson then took over for a spurt, making a free throw, hitting a three, and snagging a layup to pull the Tigers within one score, and Jabari Smith’s first bucket of the game put Auburn on top for the first time when he hit a right corner three. Auburn led 28-27 as the clock hit three minutes remaining in the first half. At halftime, however, the two teams were tied at 31 after an extremely tepid offensive half from the top team in the country.

After the break, it was played close throughout, with both teams treasuring the few made buckets in the second half. For whatever reason, neither team could find the bottom of the barrel, even though Zep Jasper opened the scoring with a three to give Auburn a 34-31 edge. Missouri took the lead on a Kobe Brown jumper to go ahead 37-36 minutes later, but a pair of free throws from Walker Kessler with 8:09 to go put the visiting Tigers back on top.

Auburn built a three-point lead when they able to get the ball in close to Walker Kessler, but as the clock ticked under two minutes left, Missouri led 51-50. K.D. Johnson then took over, driving to the hole and scoring on a tough look and converting a three-point play to put Auburn up 53-51, then he took a steal from Allen Flanigan and added another drive and score. Leading 55-51, Auburn had some cushion, but Javon Pickett hit a three with :35 to play, and Missouri chose to play defense instead of fouling. Auburn missed its final shot, but in the scuffle for a rebound, the ball was tipped out and the clock expired before it went out of bounds. Auburn escaped 55-54 to improve to 19-1 overall and run the winning streak to 16 consecutive games.

FINAL STATS

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Auburn will take part in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this Saturday with Oklahoma coming to Auburn Arena. Tip-off will come at 1 pm CST for the Tigers and Sooners, who have lost four in a row and five of six in a tough Big 12 schedule.