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Auburn defeats Missouri, 81-71

Auburn defeats Missouri, 81-71

March 15th, 2019 by Associated Press in College Sports
Missouri guard Torrence Watson (0) passes the ball away from Auburn guard Bryce Brown, right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Auburn guard Bryce Brown had to wait until his senior season to experience a victory at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Now he and his teammates want more.

Brown scored all 17 of his points in the second half, and No. 22 Auburn beat Missouri 81-71 Thursday in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Auburn (23-9) won its fifth straight to advance to the quarterfinals today against fourth-seeded South Carolina, and the Tigers also snapped a three-game skid at the SEC tournament dating back to 2015 when they reached the semifinals. That was before Brown arrived on campus.

Auburn had to shake off a cold-shooting start by guards Jared Harper and Brown as they combined to miss their first 11 shots. Brown finally knocked down his seventh attempt with 16:02 left, and the senior strung together three straight 3s. The last came from the corner in front of his own bench, giving Auburn its biggest lead of the game at 49-39 with 14:44 to go.

Harper hit his first shot, a 3, with 3:12 left for a 71-63 lead. Harper finished with five points and five assists.

Chuma Okeke added 12 points for Auburn. Spencer had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Malik Dunbar had 11 each.

Jordan Geist had a game-high 25 points for Missouri, and Torrence Watson matched his career high with 20.

Missouri kept Auburn from running away this time by shooting away outside the arc and making a season-high 15 3-pointers. Geist finished 6 of 9 from 3 himself and said the Tigers' confidence has really grown the past couple games.

"We were taking what they were giving us and shooting the ball with confidence," Geist said.

Auburn led 32-30 at halftime after Missouri made eight of its nine baskets outside the arc, and Xavier Pinson added a ninth to open the second and put Missouri back ahead. Missouri hit seven straight shots, the last a pair of 3s by Geist and then Watson's, which tied it at 52 with 11:20 to go.

Spencer scored on a three-point play, Danjel Purifoy hit a 3 and Brown added his fourth 3 with 8:16 remaining to cap a quick 9-0 spurt. Missouri couldn't get closer than four down the stretch but didn't let Auburn lead by more than 10.


Alabama 62, Mississippi 57

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—John Petty stuffed in a putback with a minute left to put Alabama ahead for good as the 10th-seeded Crimson Tide rallied and kept their postseason hopes alive with a 62-57 Southeastern Conference Tournament victory over Mississippi.

Alabama snapped a three-game skid by producing its biggest comeback of the season, as the Tide trailed the seventh-seeded Rebels by 16 in the opening minute of the second half. Alabama scored the final seven points of the game.

The Tide (18-14) advance to an SEC quarterfinal today against No. 4 Kentucky, the No. 2 seed in this tournament. Alabama beat Kentucky 77-75 on Jan. 5 in the SEC opener for both teams.

Alabama may need to beat Kentucky again to secure an NCAA Tournament bid, while Ole Miss (20-12) likely will go dancing even after Thursday night's collapse. At the start of the day, Ole Miss was 36th and Alabama 59th in the NET rankings that have replaced the RPI as a NCAA Tournament selection criterion.

Ole Miss led 40-24 in the opening minute of the second half before Alabama rallied and took a 44-43 lead when a Kira Lewis Jr. layup capped a 13-0 run with 13:14 left.

The lead went back and forth several times from there until Alabama went on its closing run.

Lewis tied the game at 57-all on a driving layup with 1:34 remaining. Lewis then got a steal and missed a layup attempt on the other end, but Petty got the offensive rebound and dunked to put Alabama ahead for good.

Bruce Stevens and KJ Buffen both missed on Ole Miss' next possession, and Galin Smith made a free throw to extend Alabama's lead to 60-57 with 41 seconds left.

After Devonate Shuler missed a potential tying 3-point attempt, Alabama's Dazon Ingram sank two free throws to cap the scoring with 20 seconds remaining.

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