(Photo Courtesy: John Reed- USA Today Sports)
Following a victory on Thursday over LSU, the Missouri Tigers fell to the Auburn Tigers on the road 85-79 to fall back below .500 with a 7-8 record.
Cinmeon Bowers powered Auburn to its ninth victory of the season with a 20 point, 14 rebound performance. Despite just a two-point lead the Tigers used a late six-point run thanks to Malcolm Canada’s timely free throws to seal the deal. Canada scored all six of Auburn’s final points and went 4-4 from the charity stripe in that span.
Missouri started out the night in control as Keith Shamburger hit a pair of three-point jumpers out of the gate to give the Tigers a quick 6-1 advantage. The senior guard had a team high 21 points, while adding six rebounds.
Though Auburn quickly settled in with a 15-4 run of its own, draining three jumpers from beyond the arc to take the lead 16-10.
Missouri spread the ball around well in the first half as all nine players tallied buckets on the score sheet. This is a good sign to see all of the players getting in on the action, especially Ryan Rosburg and Keanau Post. In the limited action the pair combined for seven points, nine rebounds, and two blocks.
Missouri used a 4-0 run to close out the half and trailed 41-40 at the break.
To start the second half Missouri used a 9-0 run to regain the lead 49-41. The Tigers maintained a lead through most of the second half until about 6:30 left in the game. Auburn took advantage of the Missouri turnovers and missed shots to tie the game up 67-67.
Missouri found itself with 14 turnovers compared to Auburns nine and only shot 37 percent from the arc, while Auburn shot a staggering 56 percent, which turned out to be the difference maker.
Wes Clark and Shamburger desperately tried to bring Missouri back in the game leading the Tigers on a 10-5 run late, but they couldn’t finish as Auburn held strong the last minute to pull away with the victory.
Right when things looked to be on the up for Missouri they get slapped with a tough road loss to Auburn to set them back below .500. Though credit Auburn for playing a full 40 minutes and seal it down the stretch. Missouri never seems to be much of a closing team, which has to be the case in basketball. This is especially the case for the Tigers this season with the amount of close games they’ve played late.
It seems the team is definitely getting better though seeing as how every one of them made an impact on the box score. Fundamentals are the bigger issue more than anything. Limiting the turnovers, hitting the open looks, locking down defensively are the areas that need improvement.
It sounds like a broken record because these have been the same issues all season and you would think they would be an easy adjustment. The court awareness overall is what this team needs to work on. Clark and Johnathan Williams III have to be the leaders in dictating the tempo and how the offense is run. Clark has to step up and take control of who’s taking the shots and take on more of the point guard, pass first minded role rather than be the shot taker.
Shamburger has shown his leadership in the two-guard spot, which along with Williams III’s improvement has been the highlight of the year so far. Ultimately I would like to see Namon Wright eventually take over the point guard position because he has the better ball handling ability of a point guard and can become a more consistent shooter given the opportunity.
Missouri has a tough task ahead as they travel to top ranked Kentucky on Tuesday to play the Wildcats. This will be a good test to see where the Tigers truly rank taking on the leagues best.
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