Observations: Auburn 55, Missouri 54
Even with their worst shooting performance in years, the No. 1 Tigers found a way to grind out a tough road win — their 16th straight victory.
SG K.D. Johnson (Auburn Athletics)
On Monday afternoon, Bruce Pearl said Auburn’s focus against Missouri had to be to “go out there and defend and rebound.”
That’s exactly what the newly crowned No. 1 Tigers did to escape Columbia with a victory Tuesday night.
Auburn beat Missouri, 55-54, in an offensive showcase that harkened back to the #SECBasketballFever days of the recent past. Calling it a rock fight might be too generous, considering the two teams went a combined 41-122 (33.6%) from the field and 11-45 (24.4%) from deep.
And Auburn’s own shooting performance was an even more extreme outlier:
But, on the road in the SEC — especially with the giant target of No. 1 in the nation painted prominently on your back — you’ll take a win by any means necessary. For Auburn, those means were winning the rebounding battle 33-16 and holding Missouri to just seven made field goals in the second half.
“Both teams exerted a lot of effort,” Pearl said. “Very, very physical game. Man, I think that was one of the most physical games that we’ve played all year. And because of all that physicality, it was just hard for both teams to score.”
It wasn’t quite as hard for K.D. Johnson, though. On a night when his teammates struggled offensively, Johnson had two huge individual bursts — one in the first half, one in the second half — that gave Auburn important leads.
Those Johnson sequences were enough for Auburn to overcome another early double-digit deficit and, later, pull off a narrow win. Combine that with some otherworldly stretches of rebounding and defense, and Auburn got to walk out of Mizzou Arena with its 16th straight win and a two-game SEC title race lead intact.
Here are five Observations, the Rotation Charts, the Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night from Auburn’s latest comeback victory away from home.
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