Heron scored seven of his team-high 16 points in the final 2:16 and turned a tie game into a 77-72 for visiting Auburn over Missouri at Mizzou Arena.
“He’s got great confidence in his offensive game, he’s got great rhythm, and obviously he made some big plays, he made some big shots,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
Heron, who suffered an ankle injury in practice on Monday, shook off a sluggish start to finish with 16 points and team-high nine rebounds to help Auburn, who was without injured forward Danjel Purifoy, improve to 11-5 overall and 1-3 in SEC play.
“We made enough shots. We made enough key plays,” Pearl said. “We played good enough defense. Our first-shot defense was pretty good. Our second-shot defense was awful. Missouri plays awfully hard. To have 25 offensive rebounds just tells you the kind of effort that those kids are still giving in spite of the fact that their record is 5-10.”
Missouri, which got a game-high 20 points from junior forward Jordan Barnett, couldn’t make enough shots and couldn’t make enough key plays fell to 5-10 overall and 0-3 in conference play with its seventh straight loss.
“Frustrating loss. I thought our guys played hard,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “Early on I thought we had some great looks at the basket and I remember looking at the stat sheet, maybe it was the first timeout, we were two for 12 (shooting) or something. That’s kind of been the story of our season lately — or more than lately. We did a great job on the boards. I thought we fought them hard.”
Missouri’s shooting struggles were an issue once again.
The Tigers, who are the worst-shooting squad in the SEC, shot 32.4 percent from the field (22-68), 27.8 percent from 3-point range (5-18) and 69.7 percent from the free throw line (23-33).
Sophomore point guard Terrence Phillips stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, six rebounds, six assists, six turnovers, three steals and three blocked shots and kept Missouri in the game late despite Heron’s heroics.
The teams were tied, 66-66, following a free throw from Missouri’s Russell Woods with 2:29 remaining but then Heron hit a 3-pointer and a jumper to put the visitors up by five points with 1:28 left.
Auburn, which traveled to Missouri seeking its first league win, was able to keep the host Tigers at arm’s length the rest of the way. Missouri wasn’t able to get closer than three points in the final 2:16.
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