Mizzou ends regular season with 89-78 loss to Auburn

Kevin Puryear (pictured in a game earlier this season) led Mizzou with 19 points in Saturday's loss to Auburn.
John Raoux/AP

AUBURN, Ala. — Mustapha Heron made every shot he took in the first half, and the Auburn Tigers didn’t miss many either.

Heron scored 20 points and Auburn shot nearly 70 percent before halftime in an 89-78 victory Saturday over Missouri. It was the regular-season finale for both teams.

Auburn (18-13, 7-11 Southeastern Conference) built a 20-point lead in the first half and didn’t cool down much, shooting a season-best 56.1 percent.

“We were moving the ball,” said Heron, who made all five of his attempts in the first 20 minutes. “We were getting good looks. We were hitting. Everything was going right.”

Heron missed only his seventh and final shot and made all three of his 3-point attempts to help hand Missouri (7-23, 2-16) its sixth straight loss. The two teams will meet again in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

T.J. Dunans scored 16 points before fouling out when he and Jordan Geist were called for a double technical late after jawing at each other. Danjel Purifoy made 5 of 7 shots for 13 points. Anfernee McLemore had eight points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.

Kevin Puryear led Missouri with 19 points despite 4-of-14 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. He made 10 of 12 free throws. Terrence Phillips scored 15. Geist made four 3-pointers and scored 13 points, along with five assists. Jordan Barnett added 12 points.

“When a team is hitting shots like that, it deflates you,” Barnett said. “We just had to keep pushing. We responded well in the second half. We had nothing to lose at that point.”

Missouri pulled to within 56-48 three minutes into the second half on 3-pointers by Barnett and Geist. Auburn scored the next eight points and wasn’t seriously threatened again.

Auburn made 12 straight shots during one first-half stretch, riding a 21-5 run to a 14-point lead.

“We took good shots,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Mustapha Heron would be a great example. He’s 6 for 7; talk about being efficient.”

Missouri did outscore Auburn 38-35 in the second half.

“I thought they shot the ball extremely well,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “I don’t think we were playing with the highest level of energy early in the game that you need to play against a team that’s that explosive. Plus it’s Senior Night, so they’re fired up and their guys are playing maybe with a little extra energy than normal.”

BIG PICTURE

Missouri, which came in last in the SEC in 3-point shooting, went 13 of 38 from long range. … Guard Frankie Hughes was helped off the court with a left ankle injury with 8:40 left but returned a couple of minutes later. … The Tigers made 21 of 26 foul shots.

Auburn made 22 of 32 shots (68.8 percent) in the first half. … The seven league wins were the most for Auburn in eight years. The Tigers had lost five of six games coming in. They outrebounded Missouri 41-32 and blocked nine shots.

SENIOR DAY

It was the final regular-season home game for four Auburn seniors: Dunans, Ronnie Johnson, Devin Waddell and LaRon Smith. Pearl said Dunans showed “the impact he can have on a game with his four steals and some of the plays that he made.

“You could tell the team fed off of him,” he said.

TIED UP

Pearl opted with an orange tie for the game when he normally doesn’t sport one, saying “you’ve got to change it up” when you’re losing.

“The tie thing, yeah, it’s back,” he said.

UP NEXT

The teams meet again Wednesday night at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, where Auburn will be the No. 11 seed and Missouri No. 14. Auburn won both regular season meetings.

“Hopefully we learned from this game,” Anderson said. “Hopefully we learned that you’ve got to come out ready to play against these guys because they’re an explosive team and a very athletic team.”