Columbia, MO – The 17th-ranked Missouri Tigers put their flawless home record on the line Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the Auburn Tigers to Mizzou Arena for an SEC affair.
Frank Haith's Tigers are a solid 15-5 on the season, but it has been a tale of two seasons, as the team is a perfect 12-0 in Columbia, but 0-4 in true road games. Missouri was last in action on Wednesday, dropping a hard-fought 73-70 decision to LSU in Baton Rouge. The loss dropped the Tigers to a mediocre 4-3 in SEC play.
Auburn has struggled in Tony Barbee's third season at the helm. These Tigers come into this contest four games under .500 at 8-12 thanks to their current five-game losing streak, that was kept alive with Wednesday's 57-49 loss at Georgia. With the most recent setback, Auburn resides in the basement of the SEC standings at 2-5 with four other teams.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these new conference foes.
A lot of Auburn's problems stem from a lack of offensive consistency. The team is shooting a mere .419 from the floor overall and putting just a modest 67.1 ppg. Frankie Sullivan is the top scorer on the roster at a solid 16.8 ppg, but is doing so on a mere .388 shooting, a number weighed down by an ugly .285 from behind the arc (39-of-137). Chris Denson has missed more than half the season, but returns to help at the offensive end with 11.9 ppg. Rob Chubb anchors play down low for Auburn, averaging 9.6 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game.
Auburn came out flat against Georgia and never recovered, shooting a season- low 28 percent from the floor overall, compounding the problem by only converting 15-of-27 free-throw attempts. Sullivan and Allen Payne led the way offensively with 13 points apiece, but went just 7-of-20 from the floor combined. Denson added 12 points in the loss.
Auburn will struggle to match Missouri's offensive output, with the hometown Tigers averaging a robust 75.3 ppg with tons of scoring depth. The return of a healthy Laurence Bowers can only strengthen Missouri's run down the stretch. The 6-foot-8 senior missed a few games due to injury, but has returned recently and still leads the team in scoring at 16.3 ppg. Jabari Brown also has the ability to fill up the basket at 15.5 ppg. Phil Pressey is one of the nation's top point guards, as a scorer (12.6 ppg) and distributor (7.1 apg). Alex Oriakhi (10.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg) contributes down low, while Earnest Ross (10.1 ppg) does the same from the perimeter.
Missouri tried to overcome a sluggish first half that saw the team shoot a miserable .269 from the floor, but a 44-point second half was still not enough to dig out of the hole and leave Baton Rouge with a victory. Pressey had one of his best all-around games, leading the team with 25 points, five assists and four steals. Brown poured in 19 points, while Bowers, still getting his legs under him, posted 10 point and six rebounds.