Once again, Bruce Pearl’s squad used a strong second-half to earn a 91-73 victory over Missouri. It is Auburn's third SEC win on the road.
Auburn has struggled from the tip and trailed at half its past three games, but Pearl made it a top priority to start off the game right Wednesday night.
“I said guys, ‘Can we get off to a better start? Please?’ When you go on the road, you don’t want to spot these guys,” head coach Bruce Pearl said on Auburn’s postgame radio broadcast. “It was from the jump. It really was.”
After Missouri cut the lead down to just one point to open the second half, Auburn responded with an 18-2 run of its own to put the game out of reach. Jared Harper led the Tigers in scoring with 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the three-point line.
“I’m so proud of Jared because he didn’t play great in the first half but he took the game over in the second half,” Pearl said. "I’m not sure there’s a better (point guard) in the league. I told him before the game that I need this one to be your best game and he delivered.”
Five Auburn players scored in double figures. Along with Harper, Bryce Brown and Desean Murray had 16 points apiece, with Brown finishing 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Mustapha Heron added 14 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Freshman Chuma Okeke came off the bench to score 10 points, knocking down two three-pointers.
“I spent a lot of time looking and learning, seeing areas where I can do (better) to make the team better,” Harper said during a postgame interview. “Knowing that we have somebody that can come out and get over five assists a game can really help this team. I looked into doing that and I’ve been able to do that throughout the season.”
Auburn turned defense into offense all night, scoring 24 points off of 20 Missouri turnovers. The Tigers also had nine blocks, six of which came from Anfernee McLemore.
“We played great defense tonight,” Harper said. “Coming into the game that was something we knew we had to do to win, create turnovers to lead into our offense. We did that very well.”
Missouri was led by Kassius Robertson with 21 points and Jordan Barnett with 19 points. The Tigers fall to 13-7 overall and 3-4 in the SEC.
No. 19 Auburn improves to 18-2 overall, which is its fourth best start in program history after 20 games, and 6-1 in the conference. The Tigers take over sole possession of first place in the conference following No. 20 Florida’s (14-6, 6-2) 77-72 loss to South Carolina.
Auburn returns to action Saturday against LSU at Auburn Arena. Tip-off on the SEC Network is scheduled for 5 p.m. CST.