Missouri-Auburn Preview


Missouri coach Frank Haith is hoping his team's latest game will serve as a much-needed wake-up call.

The 21st-ranked Tigers will try to bounce back from a loss in their SEC opener that ended the nation's longest home win streak by topping Auburn on the road Saturday.

Missouri had won 26 straight on its own floor before facing a previously .500 Georgia team Wednesday but had one of its worst offensive performances in a 70-64 overtime loss. Those 64 points matched a season low - set in a defeat to Illinois on Dec. 21 - and the 39.3 shooting performance was its worst in 2013-14.

Missouri (12-2, 0-1) was also outrebounded for the first time this season (43-34), gave up 15 offensive boards and 40 points in the paint.

"We didn't have the right look about us. Hopefully, we can learn from it," Haith said. "The toughness thing is something that's hard for a coach to accept. ... We didn't compete.

"I think hopefully, something like this, would get their attention."

Along with cleaning up issues from Wednesday's game, Haith would like to see a better performance from leading scorer Jordan Clarkson. The junior guard, averaging 18.8 points, has scored a combined 23 and missed 17 of 26 shots in the first two games this month.

Clarkson had 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting in the loss to Georgia. He also has two assists in each of the last two contests after previously dishing out a team-best 4.3 per game.

"Jordan's got to pass the ball more. He's got to get that ball in and out of his hands," Haith said. "He's got to move the ball and get it in and out of his hands. That ball stuck way too much (against Georgia)."

A transfer from Tulsa last season, Clarkson watched Missouri beat Auburn 91-77 on Feb. 2. Former Auburn guard Earnest Ross scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting in that win and will play in Alabama for the first time since transferring following the 2010-11 season.

His former team also dropped its SEC opener, 65-62 at Mississippi on Thursday, and had one of its worst offensive performances in 2013-14.

Auburn (8-4, 0-1) tied its season low for points and shot 39.3 percent as its four-game winning streak ended. Only a 35.5-percent performance at then-No. 17 Iowa State on Dec. 2 was worse.

SEC scoring leader Chris Denson, averaging 19.8 points, was a bright spot in Thursday's loss with 28 points, one shy of matching his career high. Junior guard KT Harrell was the only other Auburn player in double figures with 11.

Harrell and Denson, though, also combined for 10 of Auburn's 18 turnovers.

"We just had way too many turnovers and way too many unforced turnovers that resulted in lost possessions," coach Tony Barbee told the school's website. "I thought that was the bottom line in the game. The empty possessions that we had and unforced turnovers really hurt us."

Denson is the only returning player who scored in double figures in last season's loss to Missouri, finishing with 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting. Missouri outshot Auburn 54.5 to 35.8 percent in that game.