Auburn's fast start, hot shooting forces rout of Mizzou
AUBURN, Ala. - Bruce Pearl turned to the crowd behind him and waved his arms, asking for noise moments before Auburn tipped off against Missouri in what BP called a must-win game, the Tigers' biggest of the year.
Like Pearl's team, the fans got the message.
Auburn raced to a 27-point halftime lead, blasting the visiting Tigers 89-56 Tuesday at Neville Arena to emphatically snap a three-game losing streak behind Johni Broome's double-double and K.D. Johnson's sensational first half.
"We played really well tonight," the Auburn coach said. "I was really proud of the guys because they've worked so hard the last couple weeks, we've played better, but with no reward. We literally won every position tonight."
Broome led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
"This was a game we had to win," said Broome, echoing Pearl's pregame sentiment. "Everybody came out and put in the effort to get after it."
"We need Johni to be dominant on the inside," Pearl said. "We had an advantage at the five position tonight. We dominated the five spot, which we needed to."
Allen Flanigan added 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, Wendell Green Jr. added nine assists with no turnovers, and Jaylin Williams scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds.
"I'm glad we shot the ball better," Pearl said of Auburn's 9-for-18 3-point shooting. "That's got a chance to give us a little bit of confidence moving forward."
Johnson made 4 of 5 3-point attempts while scoring 14 in the first half, punctuating a 14-0 run that gave Auburn a 19-2 lead, forcing a Missouri timeout at the 13:05 mark.
"We just took whatever they gave us," Johnson said. "Hopefully it went in, and it went in tonight and we got the W. We needed this one. We got this for [Coach Pearl], our team and our fans."
Johnson extended Auburn's lead to 20 with another 3-pointer. Flanigan's steal and slam pushed the lead to 24 and capped a 6-0 run.
Johnson drilled another corner 3-pointer and Williams scored a basket and added a free throw during a 10-0 run to give the home team a 43-16 lead.
Auburn held Missouri without a 3-pointer in the first half on eight attempts.
The points kept coming in the second half. Zep Jasper hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a 13-0 run that gave Auburn a 37-point lead at 62-25.
Lior Berman's 3-pointer put the home Tigers on top 89-50, Auburn's largest lead. Berman tied his season high with eight points. Dylan Cardwell added eight points and 10 rebounds. Johnson added a free throw in the second half to finish with 15 points, his most in SEC play this season.
"Keep getting better," Johnson said. "You're going to lose some and win some. You've got to come in the next day and work hard. We've been focused on what's ahead of us, not what's behind us. We keep that mindset, we're going to keep this going and make our way to March."
Auburn outrebounded Missouri 48-26. Sean East II led Missouri (19-7, 7-6) with 14 points.
Auburn (18-8, 8-5) travels to Nashville to play Vanderbilt Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network. "Our guys care about trying to make history," Pearl said. "We want to get to the NCAA Tournament. This helps but we've still got work to do. Great win, we'll take tomorrow off and get ready for Vanderbilt."