Tyler Harris (above) plays defense for Auburn at Mizzou Arena.
Columbia, Mo.--For a second consecutive game a poor first half performance was too much to overcome as the Auburn Tigers dropped a 76-61 SEC basketball contest at Missouri on Saturday night.
The home team out-rebounded Auburn 41-34 and hit 25 free throws to spark the victory. Mizzou also enjoyed a huge advantage in bench points, outscoring Auburn 40-5 in that category .
One of the few bright spots for Auburn was the play of Tyler Harris, who led all scorers with 21 points. The senior forward hit 6-12 field goals, 9-10 free throws and pulled in five rebounds.
Auburn’s only other double figures score, freshman guard Bryce Brown scored 11 points, but hit just 4-13 field goals.
With the loss the Tigers are 7-7 overall and 1-2 in the SEC. Missouri improved to 8-7 overall and 1-1 in the SEC.
Coach Bruce Pearl said his team didn’t play well in transition and didn not get much production from the bench on a night when two of the team’s top scorers, Kareem Canty and Cinmeon Bowers, combined to make just 4-18 field goals. Each made just two of nine field goals atttempted.
“We are not going to win against a decent team when two of our best players struggle like that,” Pearl said.
“Offensively, we lack playmakers and that is our biggest challenge,” Pearl added. “T.J. Dunans was probably our best playmaker and then Tahj (Shamsid-Deen) was probably our second best playmaker.” Both are sidelined with injuries.
“Right now my best playmakers are probably Kareem and Tyler and Cim, and two of those guys are power forwards,” he added. “Making easy offense isn’t easy. We have got to have other guys step up.”
Kevin Puryear, a 6-7 freshman forward, led the home team with a double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling in 11 rebounds.
A lot went wrong for the visitors in the first half. After leading 15-11 with 9:50 left in the period the Tigers were outscored 24-9 heading into the break.
In the process of that happening Auburn’s top scorer, junior guard Kareem Canty, picked up his third foul of the half--two personals and one technical.
The ball-handling, no matter who was in the game, was substandard for a second consecutive game as Auburn turned the ball over 11 times in the half, seven more times than Missouri.
Halftime Numbers: Auburn made just 8-27 field goals (29.7 percent) and 3-12 threes. Mizzou hit 12-29 field goals (41.4 percent), 4-9 threes and 11-17 free throws while out-rebounding Auburn 20-18 in the half. Harris led Auburn in scoring with eight points while Puryear led Mizzou with 10.
Bryce Brown runs into traffic as he drives towards the basket vs. Missouri.
Auburn cut the lead to a dozen points at 52-40, but Missouri took command by steadily adding to the lead, stretching the margin to as many as 26 points.
Auburn was out-shot 39.3 percent to 37.3 percent from the field. Auburn made 19-51 field goals, 7-23 threes and 16-24 free throws. Missouri made 22-56 field goals, 7-19 threes and 25-33 free throws.
Auburn was outscored 13-5 in points off turnovers. Missouri finished the game with just eight turnovers, six fewer than Auburn. Mizzou also helped its cause with seven steals with Auburn made just one.
Missouri outscored the visitors 15-9 in second chance points, 30-18 for points inthe paint and 10-2 in fastbreak points.
Worth Noting, Part 1: Canty hit just 2-9 field goals and was 1-6 from three-point range and finished with nine points, 10 below his average.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Freshman center Horace Spencer made all three of his field goals and finished with a season-high eight points while adding six rebounds.
Stat of the Game: Eleven different players scored from Missouri compared to just six for the visiting Tigers. Cinmeon Bowers, with five points, is the only reserve who scored for Auburn, who were minus 35 in bench points scored. Bowers led the Tigers in rebounds with seven.
Up Next: The Tigers will travel to Nashville for an 8 p.m. CST game on Tuesday at Vanderbilt.