No. 21 Missouri battles Auburn in SEC affair

1:51 PM, Jan 11, 2014   |    comments
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Auburn, AL ( - The 21st-ranked Missouri Tigers are still in search of their first SEC win of the season, as they take on the Auburn Tigers on the road at Auburn Arena Saturday afternoon.

Frank Haith's third season in Columbia has been another successful campaign to this point. The Tigers are off to a 12-2 overall record, although Missouri enters this contest off a shocking 70-64 overtime loss at home to Georgia in the SEC opener earlier this week, ending a 26-game homecourt winning streak.

It's been a tale of two seasons for Tony Barbee's Tigers, who are 8-4 overall. All eight wins have come at home (8-1), while the team is winless outside of Auburn Arena. Auburn opened its SEC slate at Ole Miss on Thursday, dropping a 65-62 decision to the Rebels.

These two teams met for the very first time last season, a 91-77 Missouri victory in Columbia.

Missouri has been highly efficient this season, shooting .481 from the floor overall, while averaging 75.4 ppg. The team enjoys a +7.6 rebounding advantage, but that has been offset a bit by a -2.1 turnover margin. Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown fuel the Missouri attack, as each shoots .479 from the field, while filling up the basket to the tune of 18.8 and 18.4 ppg, respectively. Earnest Ross also has a double-digit scoring average at 14.1 ppg.

The Tigers were uncharacteristically off the mark offensively against Georgia, struggling for stretches of the game to generate points. Brown led the way with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Ross added 15 points to the cause while Clarkson finished with 12. However, the remainder of the roster added just 18 points combined in the loss.

A potent one-two punch is not proprietary to only the Missouri roster. Auburn has a tandem to match in the form of Chris Denson and KT Harrell. Both players are shooting just under 50 percent from the floor, with Denson pacing the SEC at 19.8 ppg. Harrell isn't far behind, ranked fifth in the league at 18.7 ppg. The real problem for Auburn is that the scoring pool almost evaporates after that, as Tahj Shamsid-Deen is third on the team with a mere 7.8 ppg.

Auburn played well in Oxford to make a game of it against the Rebels, especially considering the team's 18 turnovers. The loss spoiled a strong performance by Denson, who finished with a game-high 28 points. Like in most cases, Harrell was the only other Tiger to make a significant contribution at the offensive end, posting 11 points. Auburn held a 40-30 edge in rebounding, but shot just .398 from the floor in the setback.

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