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Mizzou Hoops Live Game Thread and Preview: Tigers visit free-falling Auburn for Valentine’s Day Showdown

The Tigers will hope to build on the emotions of Saturday’s upset win as they search for their first win at Auburn since 2014.

Syndication: Columbia Daily Tribune Caitie McMekin / USA TODAY NETWORK

Missouri 56 | Auburn 89


1st Half Notes

  • 18:04: Kobe Brown picks up his first foul.
  • Nearly every shot has rimmed out for Mizzou so far.
  • The classic D’Moi Hodge backdoor cut puts Missouri on the board. Assist from DeAndre Gholston.
  • 15:50: Johni Broome is having plenty of success so far. The Auburn center has four points and three rebounds.
  • Auburn, who is normally not a great three-point shooting team, has started this game 2-for-3 from behind the arc.
  • Missouri has been really sloppy with the ball so far. Three turnovers have killed any offensive rhythm.
  • Inbounds turnovers. A sign of a rough outing. Mizzou just looks a step behind in every facet of this game.
  • 13:05: Auburn can’t miss, Mizzou can barely get a shot off. Gates with a timeout.
  • Kobe Brown has been really limited on the offensive end, hasn’t been able to truly get involved.
  • Auburn starting 4-for-5 from behind the arc does not follow the usual trends, but it's college basketball. This just looks like a night that will favor Auburn.
  • Six turnovers now. At times, it has just been ball handling issues.
  • Allen Flanigan puts Noah Carter on a poster, causing The Jungle to explode. Missouri is playing right into the home crowd’s hands with all of these turnovers.
  • 7:30: Auburn with a very Mizzou-esque turnover, throwing the ball out of bounds on an inbound.
  • Auburn is certainly playing like a team that just suffered a demoralizing loss to a rival. They are angry.
  • K.D. Johnson is yet again lighting up Missouri. Had 17 versus the COMO Tigers last season. He’s 25% from three usually, yet 3-for-3 today.
  • 4:18: First free throw trip for Mizzou today.
  • Visiting Tigers on a 10-3 run right now.
  • Auburn has scouted these backdoor cuts really well.
  • K.D. Johnson really dislikes Missouri.
  • There is blood in the water, and Auburn smells it. Everything is going the hosting-Tigers’ way.
  • No made three-pointers is a recipe for disaster in any game, much less on the road against a tournament team.
  • Gholston just tried to return the favor to Flanigan with a poster of his own.
  • A turnover is a fitting way to end the half for Missouri.

2nd Half Notes

  • Hodge hits a three, but Auburn responds right away with an and-one.
  • Second-half appears to be continuing the same as the first.
  • 29 point deficit matches the largest of the season for Mizzou (Kansas).
  • Free throws becoming the name of the game here.
  • Broome leading Auburn with nine second half points.
  • Mizzou has gone three minutes without a field goal.

Pregame Updates

  • Honor, Hodge, Gholston, Brown and Carter are your starters.

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many three-pointers will D’Moi Hodge hit?
  3. Will Mizzou have over or under 15 assists?
  4. How many rebounds will Kobe Brown have?
  5. How many points will DeAndre Gholston score?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.

Showcasing one’s admiration and delight are staples of Valentine’s Day, but it also represents the emotions of only one of the Tiger programs that will take the court tonight.

The Missouri Tigers (19-6, 7-5 SEC) are full of passion and affection courtesy of an inspired fanbase after knocking off then-No. 6 Tennessee on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from DeAndre “Green Light” Gholston.

Auburn (17-8, 7-5 SEC), on the other hand, took their 16-3 record (including a 6-1 mark in Southeastern Conference play) into a matchup against Texas A&M on Jan. 25. That loss (or thorn, if we’re keeping up with Valentine’s Day imagery), a 16-point defeat to the Aggies, sent the Tigers into a tumultuous tumble, and they have just one win in their past six games.

Under ninth-year head coach Bruce Pearl, Auburn is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the last five years, while first-year head coach Dennis Gates has the Mizzou faithful preparing for its first tournament run in two seasons.

The Tigers of Auburn, Alabama hold an 8-6 advantage (6-6 if you include Auburn’s vacated wins in 2017, which stem from Pearl’s cheating ways) in the all-time series against Missouri, including victories in the past two meetings. Adding to the drama, Mizzou has not won on The Plains since January 11, 2014.

Fresh off an emotionally thrilling victory, Missouri will hope to continue rewriting their own script while picking up a Quad 1 victory. Meanwhile, Auburn, a projected bubble team, will look to bolster its résumé and right the ship before it’s too late.

Game Info

When: Tuesday, Feb. 14

Where: Neville Arena, Auburn, Alabama

Time: 6:00 p.m. CST


KenPom Win Probability: 30%

The Starters


PG: Nick Honor (Grad; 8.3 PPG)

SG: D’Moi Hodge (Grad; 14.1 PPG)

SF: DeAndre Gholston (Grad; 10.5 PPG)

PF: Kobe Brown (SR; 16.5 PPG)

C: Noah Carter (SR; 9.3 PPG)

Key Depth: Sean East II (G, SR), Isiaih Mosley (G, SR), Aidan Shaw (SF, FR), Mo Diarra, F, JR)


PG: Wendell Green Jr. (JR; 14.3 PPG)

SG: Zep Jasper (Grad; 3.2 PPG)

SF: Allen Flanigan (SR; 9.4 PPG)

PF: Jaylin Williams (SR; 10.8 PPG)

C: Johni Broome (SO: 13.5 PPG)

Key Depth: K.D. Johnson (G, JR), Chris Moore (PF, JR) and Dylan Cardwell (C, JR)

*These starters are projected based on past lineups and pregame updates.

Syndication: The Montgomery Advertiser Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

Get To Know Auburn

Missouri fans—welcome to yet another defensive-minded opponent.

For the third time in four games, Mizzou will play host to one of the nation’s best defenses. Auburn owns the nation’s No. 21 adjusted defensive efficiency, the seventh-best defensive effective field goal percentage and the fourth-best 3-point field goal percentage defense.

Not only do they hold opponents to just 39.6% shooting, but the Tigers also block a shot on 15% of opponents’ possessions (sixth-best) and earn a steal on 12% of opponents’ possessions (12th-best).

Auburn’s lone weaknesses on the defensive end come at the free throw line, where the Tigers own the SEC’s worst free throw rate, and on the offensive glass. Opponents grab 31% of their misses, making the paint an even greater difference for the Tigers.

Offensively, Auburn is also stacked.

The Tigers boast the No. 60 adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom and knock down nearly 52% of their two-point jumpers. Auburn also attacks the offensive glass, grabbing an impressive 34.5% of its own misses, which actually counteracts their lack of success on the defensive glass.

Turnovers are a problem at times for the Tigers. Auburn averages 12.6 turnovers per game with 10.4% of its possessions ending in a steal.

However, the true Achilles’ heel for this Tigers’ program is the 3-point line.

Auburn shoots 29.2% from beyond the arc, the 14th-worst mark in the nation. As a result of its distance shooting woes, 3-pointers only account for 25.8% of the Tigers’ points, a tally that also ranks among the nation’s lowest.

Making up for these struggles is the dominant duo of point guard Wendell Green, Jr. and center Johni Broome.

Green is the engine to this Auburn offense, consistently earning trips to the charity stripe and showcasing an ability to spread the floor with his three-level scoring ability. He also ranks third in the conference with 4.3 assists per game, making him an all-around weapon.

Broome acts as his robin, grabbing nine rebounds per game, which is second in the SEC. He also shoots 51.9% from the field and averages 2.5 block per game, both of which are top-four in the conference.

Jaylin Williams, Allen Flanigan and K.D. Johnson add dimension to this Tigers’ team, averaging a combined 28.5 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Bruce Pearl’s group has held half of their opponents in SEC play below Missouri’s threshold of 70 points. The Tigers have also defeated a trio of teams who handed Mizzou a loss—Florida, Mississippi State and Arkansas.

Facing a standout Missouri offense, Pearl will have his team prepared to cool down the black and gold Tigers.

3 Keys To The Game

1. Replicate the 3-PT Success from Knoxville

Missouri’s offense is only as good as its 3-point shot.

The Tigers have shown their identity—an over-reliance on shots from downtown. Even with this transparency though, Tennessee, who owned the nation’s best 3-point defense, could not stop the downpour.

In its SEC wins, Mizzou is shooting 44.7% on 3-pointers, but that mark dwindles to just 21% in conference losses. It may prove to be impossible to match the nearly-54 percent from Knoxville, but it’ll be crucial to shoot above 40% to nab another road victory.

2. Find an answer to Johni Broome

All eyes will be on Wendell Green, Jr., but it will likely be Johni Broome who haunts the Mizzou defense all night.

The SEC’s second-leading rebounder will have an opportunity to feast on the Missouri front court, which does not feature a true rim protecter. Mo Diarra, Kobe Brown and Noah Carter will need to counteract that balance, but it may come at a cost—foul trouble.

There is no doubt the Tigers will have their hands full with the pair, and it’ll be up to someone to make a difference in the post and prevent a complete meltdown in the paint.

3. Attack the paint to earn free throw opportunities

On the flip side, it’ll be up to Missouri to showcase its own ability to draw fouls against the team that averages the most fouls per game.

The Tigers should utilize their fear-factor to drive defenders into the perimeter, opening up cutting lanes for guards to penetrate. If they can do that early, it’ll force Auburn’s talented post players into high-contact plays, which will result in more free throws for Missouri.

Mizzou shoots an SEC-best 75.5% from the charity stripe, making it a true determining factor for the Tigers in this game because there’s a very real chance this contest comes down to the free throw line.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Game Prediction

My Prediction: Auburn 73 | Missouri 65

KenPom Prediction: Auburn 81 | Missouri 75

Auburn stands as Missouri’s lone guaranteed Quad 1 opportunity remaining at this point in time, making it yet another crucial piece in a potential NCAA Tournament run.

However, even with that added energy, Mizzou has little business winning this game, especially considering Auburn’s strengths.

The Tigers are gifted defensively, possess an above-average offensive rebounding margin and will be playing at home. Those factors pinpoint an Auburn victory, but there is true potential for a Missouri win.

Mizzou will need to play to its strengths while limiting its mistakes and capitalizing on every opportunity it can. That recipe came to fruition against Tennessee, but it’s asking a lot for an emotional Tigers’ team to do it again just three days later.

While I do believe Missouri will compete for stretches, its last run will fall short, providing a bit of heartbreak on this Valentine’s Day.