Auburn loses to No. 17 Missouri 91-77
By JAKE KREINBERG
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Rob Chubb was quick to list the reasons for Auburn's 91-77 loss Saturday at No. 17 Missouri.
"We had no defense on the perimeter," Chubb said. "They were just straight-line driving whenever they wanted and finishing around the rim. When they were around the rim, people were coming in too late, giving weak fouls and allowing them to complete and-ones. It was a recipe for disaster."
Frankie Sullivan scored 12 points while Chris Denson and Chubb added 10 for Auburn (8-13, 2-6 Southeastern Conference), which dropped its sixth consecutive game since starting conference play with wins against LSU and at South Carolina. In its last five games, Auburn is shooting 35.5 percent, including 25 percent from beyond the arc.
"It's the same beat of the same drum," Sullivan said. "Every game is the same thing."
Auburn scored the first basket off the opening tip, Shaquille Johnson's jumper that gave the Tigers their only lead of the afternoon. Sullivan hit a 3-pointer 3:42 into the game to tie the score at 7, but his team spent the remainder of the day trailing.
Auburn went 9 of 28 from the floor in the first half but stayed within single digits by converting 15 of 16 free throws. Auburn also kept the rebounding deficit to 18-17 at halftime against the No. 2 rebounding team in the country. But poor shooting continued to plague Auburn in the second half (10 for 25) as Missouri pulled away.
"I just want to win," Sullivan said. "I don't care what it is. If it's taking nine shots, taking no shots, I just want to win."
Ross hit five 3-pointers off the bench in his first game against his former team. The 6-foot-5, 222-pound guard played two seasons at Auburn, leading the team with 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game during his sophomore season. He said it was satisfying to defeat his former teammates, but took more pride in getting the victory.
"Very, very excited for a team win," Ross said. "And that's what we need. Because in order for the team to win, we all have to play well and tonight I think we did that."
The Tigers moved to 13-0 at Mizzou Arena, joined by only Florida in the SEC as unbeaten teams at home. Missouri also benefited from having its full roster of players available to play for just the third time this season.
"This is the first game since Dec. 22 that we've had our whole team," coach Frank Haith said. "That's what I look at. That's a blessing."
The teams combined for 49 fouls and 69 free throws but the sluggish pace didn't seem to affect Missouri, which shot 54.5 percent from the floor after shooting 38 percent in a 73-70 loss at LSU on Wednesday.
After scoring the final four points of the first half to lead 45-35 at the break, Missouri used a 13-1 run ending with Jabari Brown's layup with 13:43 remaining to give it a comfortable lead the rest of the way. Missouri is averaging 41.9 points in the second half this season compared to 34.6 points in the first half.
Bell, a game-time decision after missing Wednesday's loss with an ailing shoulder, started and gave Missouri a couple of highlight plays during the first half with breakaway dunks after two steals. Bell teamed up with Phil Pressey to draw the loudest applause from the crowd with 24 seconds remaining in the first half when Pressey dribbled around three defenders and found Bell open underneath the basket for an easy layup.
"I was just trying to use as much energy and emotion as I can to provide some kind of spark," Bell said. "When taking some time off you can be a little rusty, and the areas that you make up for that is energy and emotion."
Alex Oriakhi scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds for Missouri, and his three-point play with 12:36 remaining gave him 1,002 points for his career. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward scored 789 points in three seasons at Connecticut before transferring, and is averaging a career-high 10.4 points per game on 57.7 percent shooting this season.
Oriakhi said he was first told about the milestone around a week ago.
"When they announced it, it was definitely a great feeling," he said. "When you have your teammates supporting you, it's even better. So it's just a blessing and I'm happy I'm going to be able to end my career as a Tiger."
Missouri plays five of its next seven games on the road, where the Tigers are winless in four attempts this season.
"We've got to get off to better starts on the road," Haith said. "In early games we haven't had really good starts. And that comes from focus and energy and passion and all the things we have here when we play at home. We've got to generate that."
Updated February 2, 2013