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Missouri 70, Auburn 68

The SportsXchange

In a game with the highest-scoring backcourts in the SEC, No. 21 Missouri edged Auburn 70-68 on the road at Auburn, Ala.

Auburn's backcourt of guards KT Harrell and Chris Denson entered the game averaging 38.5 points a game. Missouri's starting guards, Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown, averaged 37.2.

On Saturday, though, Missouri (13-2, 1-1 SEC) clamped down on Denson, the SEC's leading scorer. Denson scored 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting, and he missed 7 of 10 free throws. Harrell, however, picked up the slack, scoring 27 points to lead all scorers.

Clarkson and Brown combined for 35 points.

With five seconds remaining, Missouri forward Jonathan Wiliams III fouled Denson. Denson made the first free-throw and intentionally missed the second. Missouri came up with the rebound, but forward Torren Jones stepped out of bounds, giving the ball back to Auburn with three seconds remaining.

Missouri held on at the end of regulation after freshman guard Wes Clark tipped the ensuing inbounds pass to Brown, ending the game.

In a sloppy, foul-filled game, the turning point for Missouri came on the heels of a technical foul. Auburn forward Michael Atewe fouled out of the game with 8:12 remaining, and the officials whistled him for a technical as he left the court. Missouri shot four free-throws, making three of them, to take a five-point lead. Over the next two minutes of game-time, Clarkson scored six of his 20 points.

Auburn (8-5, 0-2) took its final lead of the game with 1:51 remaining going up 67-66. Neither team made a field goal from that point, but Missouri forward Earnest Ross, an Auburn transfer, made four free throws to regain the lead.

Ross scored 16 points, and made all eight of his free-throw attempts as Missouri made 31 of 41 attempts as a team. Auburn shot 54-percent on 26 free-throw attempts in a game where the two teams combined for 51 fouls.

Despite shooting 31-percent from the field in the first half, Missouri led Auburn 33-30 at halftime after a late 3-point field goal by guard Jabari Brown.

Missouri's shooting woes from a surprising 70-64 home loss to Georgia on Wednesday followed the team to Auburn, including a run of 7:08 without a field goal. However, Frank Haith's team showed a renewed effort in rebounding, and out-rebounded Auburn 44-28, including 20-9 on offense.

Auburn, however, couldn't capitalized on Missouri's erratic play as it shot 32-percent itself. Despite guard Harrell's 13 points in the half, no other Auburn player had more than five points. In the second half, Auburn shot 53.6-percent from the field, but Missouri's edge in free throws helped decide the game.

The first half was marred by 28 total fouls by the two teams. Missouri, however, made 15 of its 20 free-throw attempts while Auburn made 10 of 17. Missouri forward Torren Jones made all four of his free-throw attempts and finished the half with four points and seven rebounds, which set career-highs in both categories.

Missouri forwards Ryan Rosburg and Williams III each fouled out in the second half. Atewe was the only Auburn player to foul out.

NOTES: Prior to Saturday's tip-off, Auburn announced the indefinite suspension of F Chris Griffin. Griffin, a bench player, averaged 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in seven games this season. ... Missouri F Earnest Ross made his first return trip to Auburn since transferring from the school prior to the 2011-2012 year. In a home game against Auburn last season, Ross scored 23 points ... Missouri F Tony Criswell did not play in the game, but there has been no update on his status.
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