Feb. 2, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Five Missouri Tigers scored in double figures Saturday afternoon against the visiting Auburn Tigers, and huge days from guards Keion Bell and Earnest Ross keyed 17th-ranked Mizzou to a 91-77 win at Mizzou Arena. The win boosted Mizzou to 16-5 overall and 5-3 in Southeastern Conference play, while Auburn fell to 8-13 overall and 2-6 in league action.
Bell, who missed Wednesday's loss at LSU with a strained bicep muscle, scored 24 points, his most at Mizzou, and Ross, who transferred to MU after spending his first two seasons at Auburn, contributed 23 of his own against his former team (surpassing his previous MU high of 21 points against South Carolina). Forward Laurence Bowers (12 points), center Alex Oriakhi (11) and guard Jabari Brown (11) also reached double figures, giving MU five scorers in double digits.
One of the few Tigers who didn't reach double figures was guard Phil Pressey, but the scintillating point guard still had a huge day, as he dished out 10 assists in 28 minutes, adding four points and three rebounds to the cause.
Bell had 15 points in the first half, while Ross had 13, as the duo helped push Mizzou to a 45-35 halftime lead. Bell made several nice buckets in traffic as he was aggressive driving to the hoop, while Ross sank all three of his three-point tries in the opening half. Bell would end the day 9-of-13 from the floor (adding three steals), while Ross finished 8-of-12 overall, including 5-of-6 from long distance.
A game after Mizzou shot just 37.7% from the floor in a stinging 73-70 loss at LSU, Frank Haith's team came out firing on all cylinders. Mizzou connected at a solid 54.5% from the floor, as Haith improved to 28-1 in the friendly confines of Mizzou Arena.
Mizzou pushed the lead to as many as 22 points in the second half, as Auburn would get no closer than eight early after halftime. The visiting Tigers pulled to within nine points, at 51-42 with 16:16 left in the game, but Mizzou responded with an 11-0 run to streak to a 62-42 lead over the next two-and-a-half minutes.
Pressey started the run by sinking his only three-point attempt of the day (Pressey was 1-of-2 from the floor Saturday), and he followed that with a pretty alley-oop pass to Oriakhi, who slammed it home for a 56-42 lead with 15:00 left. Forward Tony Criswell managed a putback of an Oriakhi shot in traffic, and Brown scored four straight points to stretch the lead to 20.
Mizzou held Auburn to just 35.8% shooting on the day, but the visiting Tigers kept the game from getting out of hand thanks in large part to an impressive 32-of-36 performance from the foul line (88.9%). Auburn came into the game ranked 9th in the SEC at 67.2% from the line.
Up next for Mizzou will be a road test at Texas A&M on Thursday, Feb. 7th. Tipoff for that game is set for 8 p.m., with the action televised on ESPN2. The Tigers will return home next Saturday for a matchup against national-ranked Ole Miss on Feb. 9th (Noon tipoff on CBS).
Stay tuned to www.MUTigers.com for continuing coverage of the Mizzou Tigers.