The top-ranked Auburn Tigers survives against Missouri Tigers on Tuesday night in a 55-54 win. This was Auburn’s first game as the number one ranked team in the country. The Auburn Tigers were led in the game by K.D. Johnson, who delivered in the clutch. Auburn trailed 51-50 with 2:25 left before Johnson took over. He scored five points in less than a minute to put Auburn up 55-51. After a Javon Pickett three with 36 seconds left, Auburn held on with a big offensive rebound as time expired to hold on for the win. With the win, Auburn improves to 19-1 and extends their winning streak to 16 games. For Missouri, they fall to 8-11 on the season thus far.
Top Ranked Auburn Survives Against Missouri 55-54
The Auburn Tigers struggled for most of the first half on the road against the Missouri Tigers. In fact, Auburn did not obtain their first lead of the game until a Jabari Smith three-pointer with 3:15 left to go up by 28-27. Those were the only points scored by Smith in the first half. Missouri got off to an early 10-point lead of 12-2 in the first six minutes of action. They did so with high energy and an electric crowd to give them a big boost. They also used the great equalizer in the three-point shot hitting two early in that stretch. Both shots were hit by Javon Pickett and Jarron Coleman. Pickett led the way for Missouri in the first half with nine points. The shots from three would cool off though, with Missouri going 4 for 10 in the half.
Despite the struggles for Auburn, the game was tied at 31 as both teams went into the locker room at the half. A big catalyst for Auburn was the play of Johnson. He led the Tigers with ten first-half points, but his presence was not just felt by his scoring. Johnson was key on defense with causing turnovers with his three first-half steals. He also was the one with the assist to Smith when Auburn took their first lead of the game. After a Coleman free-throw to put Missouri up 27-20, Johnson would score consecutive points by way a three and then a lay-up. That got Auburn within 27-25 with 3:45 left until halftime. He would get another layup with 1:51 remaining to put Auburn up 30-29. Missouri’s Trevon Brazile gave the Tigers the lead 31-30 before Walker Kessler tied it at 31 for Auburn.
The second half was more of an offensive struggle for both teams than the first half was. Both teams had extended periods in the half where they could not buy a basket. There was a point in the half where Auburn was shooting 19% and Missouri was at 25%. Auburn began the second half by breaking the 31-31 tie with a Zep Jasper three to go up 34-31. After Auburn went up 36-33 with a Johnson layup, Missouri’s Kobe Brown got the lead back for his Tigers. Brown scored on back-to-back possessions to put them up 37-36. Brown came in as Missouri’s leading scorer, but only scored eight points. Auburn’s leading scorer did not fare well in the game either. Jabari Smith went 2 for 15 with just five points. Both did help their teams on the boards with Brown getting 11 and Smith bringing down 10.
Auburn got a big scare with 13:18 in the second half when Wendell Green went down with what appeared to be a knee injury. He would come back into the game at around the 9:40 mark and made a key play. After a Kobe Brown jumper to get Missouri within 48-47, Green found Walker Kessler for a dunk to put Auburn up 50-47 with 3:42 left. Kessler had another solid performance scoring 13 points and bringing down 12 rebounds. He also added in two blocks as well. Missouri went on the score four straight to go up 51-50 before KD Johnson took over. Missouri was led in the game by Pickett with 17 points.
After Auburn survives against Missouri it will need to re-focus with some big opponents on the horizon. It is a big weekend coming up with the annual SEC/Big 12 challenge. The Auburn Tigers will be hosting the Oklahoma Sooners who are 12-7 on the season and have lost four straight games. Missouri will play 23rd ranked Iowa State that is 14-5 on the season.
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