Earnest Ross made a pair of FTs to put Missouri ahead 68-67 with 1:35 remaining in the game. Then, the former Auburn player stepped to the line again, and made 2 more FTs to extend Missouri's lead to 70-67 with 0:29 remaining.
"We executed when we needed to execute," explained Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith. "Every point counted in this game. It was a lot of whistles, a lot of free throw shooting. It was hard to get into a little bit of a rhythm. But I loved how I gritty our kids were to finish out the ballgame!"
Ross finished with 16 points for Missouri, who also got 20 points from Jordan Clarkson, and 15 points from Jabari Brown. Seldom-used freshman Torren Jones came off the bench to score 4 points and grab 11 rebounds for Missouri, who out-rebounded Auburn 44-28. And, Keanau Post came off the bench to score 3 points and pull down 6 boards. It was without question, the best we've seen from those two big men so far.
The game was primarily played in the paint, and featured a total of 67 free throw attempts by the two teams. Missouri had the advantage at the free throw line, and outscored Auburn 31-14 at the charity stripe, while also winning the war of attrition, as foul trouble was more of an issue for Auburn than it was for Mizzou.
"We (rebounded the basketball)," continued Coach Haith. "That was the difference (in the game), because we didn't shoot the ball well. We needed to rebound the ball. I thought Keanau Post, Torren Jones, you know, Ryan (Rosburg), and J3, all those guys came in and gave us great minutes off the bench."
Auburn's K.T. Harrell led all scorers with 27 points.
As the game got underway, both teams did a good job of packing it in the paint, and of getting out on shooters. There were few uncontested shots during the first period. The score remained close throughout the first twenty minutes, although Auburn did build a 30-25 lead on a pair of Harrell free throws, his 12th and 13th points of the first half, with 2:33 remaining in the first half.
From there, Missouri closed out the half on an 8-0 run to head into the halftime locker room leading 33-30. Keanau Post hit 1-of-2 free throws, then scored on a reverse lay-up on an assist from Torren Jones. Shane Rector hit a pair of free throws, and after Wes Clark, Rector, and Jones gave Missouri more than a minute of shut-down defense, Coach Haith called a time-out to re-insert Jabari Bown, who had been sitting with 2 fouls, and set up a play that resulted in Brown hitting a 3-PT shot from the top of the key.
Neither team shot the ball well in the first half, although Missouri shot 10-of-15 from the free throw line, and three of Auburn's big men went to the locker room with 3 fouls apiece.
The second half saw Auburn Head Coach Tony Barbee's entire front line in foul trouble, three ties, and four lead changes, and Missouri's short-lived (16 seconds) 58-52 lead with 7:26 remaining was the largest lead of the game.