Tigers Can't Handle 17th-Ranked Mizzou

The Auburn basketball team's struggles continued with a 91-77 road loss at Missouri that did not please Coach Tony Barbee.

Columbia, Mo.--Auburn's losing streak increased to six games with a former Tiger contributing to 17th-ranked Missouri's 91-77 SEC basketball victory on Saturday.

Earnest Ross, who played two seasons at Auburn, scored 23 points and added two rebounds off the bench in his first game against his former team. His teammate, Keion Bell, scored 24 points for Missouri, which improved to 16-5 for the season and 5-3 in the SEC.

Frankie Sullivan led the visitors in scoring with 12 points while Rob Chubb and Chris Denson each added 10 points for Auburn, which is now 8-13 overall and 2-6 in the SEC.

Missouri hit 54.5 percent of if its field goals, a statistic that did not please Auburn coach Tony Barbee. "You can be a really good team when nobody is guarding you--it is easy to score," he said, calling his team's defense the worst in the SEC.

"We just couldn't guard the ball," Barbee added. "It wasn't like we were making them go wide, two or three dribbles and you can help. It was straight line drives down the middle of the lane and it is hard to help."

Auburn made just 35.8 percent of its field goals, hitting 19-53. The Tigers connected on 7-22 threes and were on target at the foul line making 32-36.

Missouri held a slim edge in rebounds, 32-31, and made 6-16 threes and 25-32 free throws. Missouri had 11 turnovers while Auburn finished with 12 turnovers.

Missouri coach Frank Haith had praise for the way his team played. "I thought we really turned down some good shots for some great shots, and that was good to see," he said.

"We have to bottle what we have when we play at home and take it on the road," the coach added. "We have good chemistry when we play at home, sharing the ball, and we have to get that done on the road."

Rob Chubb defends against Keion Bell.

Auburn's only lead was 2-0 on a jumper by Shaquille Johnson. Missouri took the lead for good at the 15:32 mark of the first half on a trey by Ross to up 10-7.

Missouri closed the first half on an 11-5 run to take a 45-35 advantage at halftime. Auburn was able to cut the lead to eight in the second half, but with the score 51-41 the home team went on a 20-10 run to take control of the contest.

"It might be time to look at the young guys and give them more minutes," Barbee said. "Our older guys aren't getting it done."

Starters: The Tigers went with seniors Sullivan and Chubb along with juniors Allen Payne and Denson along with freshman Shaq Johnson to open the game.

Halftime Numbers: Auburn was 9-28 from the field, 2-8 on threes and 15-16 at the foul line in the first 20 minutes. Missouri hit 15-29 free throws from the field, 3-7 on threes and Mizzou was 12-15 at the foul line. The home team led in rebounds 18-17 at the break and had five turnovers, one less than Auburn.

Chubb led the Tigers in scoring at halftime with eight points while Ross, his former roommate at Auburn, led Mizzou with 13 points.

Ross On Playing Against Auburn: Asked about playing against his former team, Ross said his goal was to "just to go out there and play hard."

"It was a personal thing when I stepped on the floor," he added. "I know most of those guys so it was more of a friendly rivalry, I would say, but most of all just going out there and executing what the coached asked of us. It was just another game we have on our schedule to win and with the team at hand we have to go out there and execute what they ask of us. Tonight we did that as a team."

Inside Success: Missouri's margin of victory was helped by a lot of success close to the basket. The home team outscored Auburn 42-20 in the points in the paint statistic.

Up Next: The Tigers will be at home on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game vs. Alabama.

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