While it's too bad Mizzou's winning streak only lasted for one game, it is nicer to be typing here that Mizzou is not coming off a 14th straight loss, and only one straight loss, so PROGRESS! Auburn comes to Columbia for a rematch of the Tigers second conference game of the season where they were beaten and bruised in the previous matchup.
Presenting the Auburn Tigers
location: Auburn, Alabama
By HHKB Chris: As I did with the previous second previews, we're going to take a closer look at Auburn the university and Alabama the state as it lives and breathes on the whole. I'll be honest before Mizzou moved to the Southeastern Conference I really knew very little about Alabama, and what I did know was what I learned from the movie My Cousin Vinny. Grits are apparently big down there, as is hunting and getting stuck in the mud. Apparently sarcasm is not well received either. And with that movie being about laws, let's take a look at some of their more out of the box head scratchers.
First off, if you're heading down to Alabama, do not under any circumstance where a fake mustache in church that may cause laughter. There is no sex in the champagne room and there is no laughter in church. Its serious business down there people!
Also apparently Halloween is illegal in Alabama. It's not written explicitly into law but it is against the law to wear a mask in public. I'm so sorry all you little Alabamans that want candy, there will unfortunately be no dressing up for you. I imagine this means that on October 31 kids have to eat broccoli and like it, that or they just dress up sans masks, but that's not possible. Crazy. Speaking of dressing up, it is illegal to dress up as a member of the clergy. Church and the clergy are big down in Alabama, that means no one is dressing up like the pope, no matter how much you want to wear that bad ass pope hat.
But what of the University itself? What can we learn about the current student by delving into the past? Well Auburn has not always been called Auburn, it's gone through more name changes than Prince has. You see when the University came into being it was called East Alabama Male College, which would lead one to believe there was a Western one, but no, just the eastern one. Then It changed its name to Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, becoming the first four year coed school in the state. Take that other Alabama! That name didn't last very long either and they became the Alabama Polytechnic Institute which sounds like something you see on TV at 3AM because you can't sleep or are drunk. Finally, in 1960 it became known as Auburn, because that's what people were calling it. Good thing people didn't call it something weird like BucketStump University. The SEC will never cease to marvel me with how decisions are made whether they be mascots or university names. People called it Auburn, fine let's call it Auburn, done deal!
Auburn does have a cool tradition where they throw toilet paper all over the trees at Toomers Corners, when those trees aren't being killed by a sad little man who loves Alabama way too much...though Missourians do celebrate the burning and murder of Lawrence, Kansas, so to each their own. But the trees are back and I'm sure people are super excited.
With the game being held at Mizzou Arena, I don't have to ask you if you're going, because I know you are. This is senior night so let's all celebrate Keanau Post and Keith Shamburger as they play in their final game at Mizzou and let's thank KP for his two years of weird play and Keith for his one year of stellar service, sorry we didn't get you to the tourney you so desired. Hopefully Kim Anderson doesn't pull a Frank Haith and refuse to start either of them and cause an mild freak out from the fanbase as happened in the past couple years. Regardless of what you KP do, we'll always have this moment:
And to you Keith, we all wish you could hang around for one more year, to see what you could have done with some sophomores and juniors to play with would have been a delight.
So enjoy this last moment to watch your Tigers in person, but should you be unable or unwilling because you poked your eyes out already, the game can be seen on the SEC Network at 8:00 PM central. Let’s enjoy our final home game and hope for better things in the future of Mizzou Arena.
About Their Basketball Team
By Sam Snelling: Since we last met up with the Auburn Tigers both teams have had way more losses than wins. Auburn has had slightly more success with wins over South Carolina, LSU and Georgia, and losses to everyone else. On the season the Auburn Tigers have hit a bit of a wall and are currently 12-17, and 4-12 in the SEC. KenPom has them rated 160th in the country, which is still about 40 spots ahead of Missouri.
Auburn shoots pretty well from deep, and not very well from anywhere else, as you can see. Bruce Pearl likes to push tempo, but he really doesn't have the horses to do that this season. They've been led by K.T. Harrell (17.7 ppg, 32.9 mpg), Antoine Mason (15.1 ppg, 29.7 mpg) and Cinmeon Bowers (12.8 ppg, 30.2 mpg), and Mason isn't planning on playing since his father, Anthony Mason, died over the weekend. Tahj Shamsid-Deen is also out for the season with a shoulder injury. Shamsid-Deen is only averaging 6 points on the season, but was averaging around 23 minutes, and had 10 points against the Mizzou the last time around.
With Mason and Shamsid-Deen out, Mizzou might actually have a bit of an advantage, but if there is one area of concern it's with Bowers and Harrell. Harrell only took 6 shots in their first meeting, and still scored 14 points. He has the ability, and experience, to carry a team on the road, and he's also highly efficient in scoring the ball. Bowers is about the only interior threat that Auburn has, last time against Mizzou he was impossible to keep off the free throw line, but was an awful 4-13 from the floor and 11-20 from the line.
Now for a closer look at their basketball team, let's chat with somebody who knows them best...
Q&A With COLLEGE & MAGNOLIA
Thank you to Tuco from College and Magnolia for taking the time to answer our questions. They've got some good basketball coverage over at College and Magnolia, so give them a follow and a read as the season plays out.
RockMNation: Mizzou and Auburn played very early in the season, how has the team looked since that early January game?
Tuco: Unpredictable. We have two good wins on the road against LSU and Georgia but not much else to hang our hat on. Getting swept by Alabama hurts. The team hasn't been the same since Tahj Shamsid-Deen went down for the last time. We let Kentucky and Arkansas hang 100 on us.
RMN: How would you grade Bruce Pearl's first season as the head of Auburn basketball, and how has he matched up to your pre-season expectations?
Tuco: I think most Auburn people were hoping with the influx of transfers and coaching talent that we could make the NIT this year so being five games under .500 is frustrating for everyone, especially Coach Pearl. The truth is, this is a total rebuild. We still feel confident going forward but the success may be more than a year away even now.
RMN: Who should Mizzou fans be watching for on Tuesday night from the Auburn side of the ball?
Tuco: It's pretty well known at this point that Auburn has three weapons, KT Harrell, Antoine Mason, and Cinmeon Bowers. Antoine Mason is likely to miss the game because his father, former Knick Anthony Mason recently passed away. KT Harrell is a wily senior who is great at getting open and hitting shots. Cinmeon Bowers is a physical freak who is still developing as a basketball player. He averages a double double.
RMN: If Mizzou is going to be able to get revenge, what's it going to take to beat your Tigers?
Tuco: This game presents a classic matchup, the movable object and the resistible force. Can Mizzou figure out a way to score against an Auburn defense that has allowed opponents to shoot over 53% in 5 of the last 7 games? Put differently, can Missouri score against anybody? If Williams can establish an inside presence, Auburn may be in trouble.
RMN: What's your prediction for how this game unfolds, and your predicted score?
Tuco: I've given up trying to guess what will happen in any given Auburn game. Since Antoine Mason will miss the game, I really like Missouri's chances but I'm sticking with Auburn 59-55.
Thanks again to Tuco for answering our questions, sounds like Auburn is pretty much the same boat as Mizzou so this should be a fun game.
Fun. Well that's one way of putting it. The last time these two teams played it wasn't really fun, it was ugly, and they seemed to score a lot of points. But I think most basketball purists would have been slightly offended by it. Auburn basically let Missouri do what they wanted offensively, and just counted on the fact that the good Tigers wouldn't be able to do enough. They didn't do a good job of getting Johnathan Williams III the ball, and the point guards combined to take 33 shots. Mizzou hoisted a total of 27 3's, and even though they made 10 of them (a solid percentage of 37%) it was too many when their advantage was on the interior.
So it's because of that last game that I'm going to reuse our first key from the last time...
1) Own the Glass/Contain Bowers
Other than Bowers, there isn't anyone on the Auburn roster who scares you on the glass. One guy can have a big impact on the glass, but barring some kind of 20 rebound performance, Mizzou should win the battle by 10. Furthermore, Mizzou can withstand another performance like Bowers had last time, but they'll need the inefficiency if he does it.
2) Find Efficiency
Tuco mentioned it above, but Auburn is a bad defensive team. Mizzou is a bad offensive team, but if there is one game where you have to find the offensive sledding easier it's this one. Mizzou has the advantage of working the ball on offense, and getting easier shots on the inside. They'll just have to convert them.
3) Defend the 3
Last go around, the Auburn shooters did more attacking the basket, but they tend to shoot the ball a LOT from 20 feet out. If those shots are going in, Auburn tends to play with more swagger, and they'll undoubtedly use that to fuel the rest of their competitiveness.
The game was competitive last time, and Auburn, if you recall, was the first team to beat Mizzou before it happened 12 more times in a row. I think that game, with Montaque Gill-Caesar sidelined due to his back injury, was a huge turning point in this season because to that point Mizzou had played several games in a row and were competitive against good teams, even winning against LSU the game before. Tripping up at Auburn lost MIzzou a valuable chance to go into the Tennessee game 2-1 (they weren't going to beat Kentucky obviously). The game was there for the taking, and the Tigers played an undisciplined game, and ended up losing.
So it could serve as a purpose to re-write some of the season to an extent. That chance may be lost on the team, but this does represent a chance for them to exercise some of the demons of a lost season. And for a young team that is building towards the future, that kind of exorcism could prove valuable moving forward. A way to convince themselves that maybe they aren't the worst team in the SEC. Confidence is a fickle beast.
With all that said, what happens? There are a lot of reasons to see Auburn winning, they've been the more consistent team than Mizzou. They have been on a slide over the last 3-4 games, having lost to good teams by a lot of points. And I think the home crowd, on senior night should prove the difference for the Tigers of Columbia. I think JW3 returns to form a bit, they get big nights from Keanau Post and Keith Shamburger, and Namon Wright and MGC step up and play well. I think Mizzou wins this game, let's say: Missouri 74, Auburn 66.
As usual, predictions and trifecta picks in the comments below. I'll take Shamburger, JW3 and Post. Senior night.