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No. 22 Auburn shakes off Missouri 81-71 at SEC Tournament

J'Von McCormick #12 of the Auburn Tigers shoots the ball against the Missouri Tigers during the second round of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 14, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bryce Brown scored all 17 of his points in the second half, and No. 22 Auburn beat Missouri 81-71 Thursday in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Auburn (23-9) won its fifth straight to advance to the quarterfinals Friday against fourth-seeded South Carolina, and the Tigers also snapped a three-game skid at the SEC tournament dating back to 2015 when they reached the semifinals.

No. 12 seed Missouri (15-17) at least kept this game closer than the last game between these teams, a 34-point loss in Auburn on Jan. 30, and they even led by as much as four in the first half.

Auburn had to shake off a cold-shooting start by guards Jared Harper and Brown as they combined to miss their first 11 shots. Brown finally knocked down his seventh attempt with 16:02 left, and the senior strung together three straight 3s. The last came from the corner in front of his own bench, giving Auburn its biggest lead of the game at 49-39 with 14:44 to go.

Harper hit his first shot, a 3, with 3:12 left for a 71-63 lead.

Chuma Okeke added 12 points for Auburn. Horace Spencer and Malik Dunbar had 11 each.

Jordan Geist had a game-high 25 points for Missouri, and Torrence Watson matched his career high with 20.

Missouri kept Auburn from running away this time by shooting away outside the arc and making a season-high 15 3-pointers.

Auburn led 32-30 at halftime after Missouri made eight of its nine baskets outside the arc, and Xavier Pinson added a ninth to open the second and put Missouri back ahead. Missouri hit seven straight shots, the last a pair of 3s by Geist and then Watson’s, which tied it at 52 with 11:20 to go.

Spencer scored on a three-point play, Danjel Purifoy hit a 3 and Brown added his fourth 3 with 8:16 remaining to cap a quick 9-0 spurt. Missouri couldn’t get closer than four down the stretch but didn’t let Auburn lead by more than 10.

BIG PICTURE

Missouri: These Tigers head home waiting for next year and the chance to win more than just once at the SEC tournament. Missouri has never won back-to-back games since joining this league for the 2012-13 season, but at least coach Cuonzo Martin leaves Nashville with the program’s fourth SEC tournament win. But a couple key freshmen struggled with Javon Pickett held scoreless and Pinson struggling with eight turnovers.

Auburn: The Tigers will need more from Harper and Brown moving forward. Brown did hit all four of his 3-point attempts in the second half. But their defense came through, converting 14 turnovers into a 24-17 scoring edge. They also dominated inside, outscoring Missouri 30-16 in the paint.

UP NEXT

Auburn plays South Carolina on Friday in the SEC quarterfinals.

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