Missouri looks to compete better today at Auburn
Saturday, January 11, 2014
COLUMBIA — Frank Haith isn’t shy about discussing his desire to build a resume with an eye on the NCAA Tournament.
After Missouri’s surprising home loss Wednesday night to a Georgia team with the the No. 242-ranked RPI , the third-year Missouri head coach’s tune changed a bit.
“I’m not worried about that (resume),” he said. “I’m worried about getting our (behinds) ready to compete (today) at Auburn.”
No. 21 Missouri (12-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) looks to bounce back against Auburn (8-4, 0-1 SEC) at 1 p.m. today (ESPNU-TV).
Missouri’s loss to Georgia snapped the Tigers’ nation-best 26-game homecourt winning streak. It also means today’s game might be the last time for a while Missouri sees a ranking next to its name.
“It’s going to sting, I want it to sting,” Haith said. “We’re going to be tougher, I’ll tell you that.”
That noted lack of toughness refers to Missouri losing the rebounding battle to Georgia, 43-34. The Tigers gave up a whopping 15 offensive rebounds.
“Rebounding is effort,” Haith said. “I don’t think we blocked out. I do think they went with way more tenacity than we did. … They were definitely really aggressive around that basket.”
Missouri enters today’s game grabbing 39.3 rebounds per game, good for 44th in the nation and fourth in the SEC. So it’s not like the Tigers are a poor rebounding team. In fact, Wednesday’s game against Georgia marked the first time this season Missouri lost the rebounding battle.
Auburn pulls down 38.2 rebounds, which ranks 71st in the country and fifth in the league. Kentucky (44.1), LSU (41.2) and Tennessee (39.4) top the conference in rebounding.
Auburn is coming off a 65-62 loss at Mississippi in its conference opener. Two of Auburn’s non-conference losses — at Iowa State and on a neutral court against Illinois — are respectable. The same can’t be said for the other, a 19-point loss at home to Northwestern State.
Auburn’s best win was a 66-64 decision against Clemson.
Although Auburn’s record isn’t all that impressive, Haith isn’t taking anybody lightly. Especially after the loss to Georgia.
“In league play anything can happen,” he said. “It is a long season. I think hopefully something like this we can get their attention.”
Senior guard Chris Denson heads the Auburn attack with 19.8 points per game. Junior guard KT Harrell is the other double-digit scorer for the Tigers, pouring in 18.7 ppg. Auburn averages 75.7 points, good for 104th in the nation.
Jordan Clarkson remains Missouri’s leading scorer at 18.8 ppg despite scoring just 12 points against Georgia. Jabari Brown isn’t fart off at 18.4 ppg, while Earnest Ross rounds out three Tigers in double figures at 14.1 ppg.
Ross played at Auburn for two seasons, from 2009-2011, before transferring to Missouri after the 2010-11 season. During his sophomore campaign there, Ross averaged 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds. Ross scored 23 points during Missouri’s win against Auburn last year.
Missouri averages 75.4 points, good for 110th in the country.
Missouri defeated Auburn 91-77 last season at Mizzou Arena in the first meeting between the teams. Can Missouri improve to 2-0 against Auburn?
“We have to have a short memory,” Brown said. “We have to bounce back, we can’t let one loss turn into two. We have to go get a road win, and I think we’re prepared to do that.”
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