COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou Men’s Basketball got a boost from a career-high 20 points scored by junior forward Jordan Barnett (St. Louis, Mo.) and an outstanding 13 rebounds from sophomore guard K.J. Walton (Indianapolis, Ind.), but it was not enough, as Auburn slipped by Mizzou, 77-72, Tuesday evening (Jan. 10) at Mizzou Arena. Barnett scored his 20 points on 6-for-18 shooting from the field, including a pair of three-pointers, while sinking 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Walton added eight points and his career-high 13 rebounds to lead all players.
Sophomore point guard Terrence Phillips (Orange County, Calif.) recorded 12 points, six boards and six assists in the loss and sophomore guard Jordan Geist (Fort Wayne, Ind.) pitched in 10 points on his birthday. Mizzou held a 35-34 lead at the break and tied the game at 66-all with less than three minutes remaining, but Auburn pulled away late to steal the result. Auburn moved to 11-5 and 1-3 in Southeastern Conference play, while Mizzou fell to 5-10 and 0-3 in league contests.
Auburn held an early advantage until a nice-give-and-go earned senior forward Russell Woods (Chicago, Ill.) a three-point play on a nice finish in the lane. That gave Mizzou an 18-16 lead and the lead eventually grew to four points before Auburn regained the lead at 25-23 with four minutes to play in the opening frame.
That triggered a back-and-forth sequence to close the half. Auburn opened a five-point lead, but three-pointers from Barnett and Frankie Hughes (Cleveland, Ohio) and a free throw from Walton regained the lead for Mizzou. Auburn sank a late triple, but a Phillips lay-in gave the Black & Gold a 35-34 advantage heading into the break.
Mizzou was just 1-for-8 from distance in the first half before hitting its final three attempts, all in the final 3:18 of the frame. Mizzou also dominated the glass in the first half, holding a 28-20 edge in boards. Of Mizzou’s 28 boards, 12 came on the offensive glass.
Coming out of the break, Mizzou opened a six-point lead after Hughes converted 2-of-3 free throws after being fouled on a shot from deep. But Auburn used a 7-0 run over a 19-second span, capped by a Bryce Brown triple, to regain a 45-44 lead with 14:07 remaining. The run was extended to 9-0 after a Mizzou turnover led to an Auburn layup on the ensuing possession.
Auburn’s lead grew to 49-46 and it appeared to be headed to a five-point lead on a breakout by the visiting Tigers. But Phillips hustled all the way back to get an emphatic block under the basket to squander an Auburn 2-on-1. Mizzou scored on its next possession to pull within one, but had a hard time cutting into Auburn’s lead from there.
Mizzou used tremendous hustle to tie the game at 66-all with 2:27 remaining after Woods hit his third free throw of the game. But Auburn responded with a 5-0 run to take a 71-66 lead with 1:28 to play. Mizzou got as close as three points in the waning seconds, but Auburn knocked down its free throws to escape Mizzou Arena with the win.