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Mizzou had a size advantage against Auburn. You couldn’t tell, though.

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Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

On Tuesday, Matt Harris drew up how Auburn’s pretty offense works. On Wednesday, Auburn destroyed Missouri with it.

Even with 20 turnovers, Mizzou averaged around a point per possession offensively — not great but not horrendous — and still lost by 18 points at home. That tells you pretty much what you need to know.

It wasn’t necessarily the open looks that killed Mizzou, though. Sure, Auburn shot 44 percent from 3-point range, but Mizzou shot 37 percent. But Culprit No. 1 was second-chance points.

  • Missed FGs: Auburn 34, Mizzou 32
  • Offensive rebounds: Mizzou 13, Auburn 8
  • Second-chance points: Auburn 21, Mizzou 8

Not really the way that’s supposed to work. Oh yeah, and...

  • Dunks: Auburn 7, Mizzou 1

Auburn played a game of How Big A Man Are Ya?, and Mizzou didn’t respond very well.

Against an Auburn team that’s tallest starter is 6-7, Missouri got just two field goals from freshman frontcourt tandem Jeremiah Tilmon (zero points on zero shots in seven foul-filled minutes) and Jontay Porter, who scored five points and rarely exploited his size advantage inside.

“We feel like if we play tougher than any opponent it doesn’t matter the size,” said the 5-10 Harper, the shortest player on the court but the night’s most impressive player. “A lot of us coming up through high school we were always underestimated and size was a question for a lot of us. But we just use that as fuel to our fire.”

Culprit No. 2: that run.

After Mizzou used an 8-0 to cut the lead back down to just one point midway through the second half, Auburn responded with a 15-0 run to deaden the energy inside Mizzou Arena. Auburn guard Jared Harper played well down the stretch, scoring 18 of his 21 points in the second half while not missing a shot from the field.

Culprit No. 3: Tilmon vs. the whistles.

Then there is the confounding case of Jeremiah Tilmon, the big man who has shown great potential when he can play without thinking about fouls.

That’s not possible when, like Wednesday, he collects his first foul 17 seconds into the game and his second before 7 minutes had expired. The team can live with some mistakes, but early in the second half, when the 6-11 freshman came out to challenge a three-point attempt and caught enough of the shooter for another foul, Martin shook his head but left him in the game.

“Why not?” Martin said. “You know how it’s going to end. He has to learn to fight through it.”

The other message Martin has had for Tilmon: It’s your own fault.

“It’s not the officiating,” Martin said. “It’s you. You have to take ownership.”

Tilmon is rather vital to this team, and he was on the bench for most of it.

“He does good in some games, and there’s just others where you gotta try to calm him down when he gets that first foul or second foul,” Jordan Geist said after a reporter asked if the team has talked to Tilmon about fouls. “You gotta try to let him play through it and grow, but we need him in games. He’s a big factor for us.”

His aggressiveness isn’t just his best trait, it’s one of his team’s rarest.

In a lot of games, Tilmon falls victim to, or benefits from, the way a particular game is called. On Wednesday night, the way the game was called didn’t really matter. Tilmon was picking up whistles no matter what.

#TrustTheProcess

“It’s a process. You’re going to go through some things,” Martin said. “It’s just part of growing, but you’ve got to (continue to) fight.”

For the first time all year, Missouri is below .500 in conference play. That makes the next two games — winnable to road trips to Mississippi State (No. 80 in KenPom) and Alabama (No. 58) — awfully big. Really, really big, actually.


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