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February 2, 2013- -
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Keion Bell scored a game-high 24 points as No. 17 Missouri defeated Auburn 91-77 on Saturday in Mizzou Arena.
"You can be a really good team when nobody is guarding you," Auburn head coach Tony Barbee said. "It's easy to score. In the SEC, it's really easy to score. (Missouri point guard Phil) Pressey didn't go for 20 and 10. That's what really hurts teams. He had 10 assists. You have to give those guys credit. They made a lot of shots off of his assists, but we limited him offensively. That was a decent job, that we didn't let him beat us both ways. He was just able to get those assists."
Auburn held Pressey, the SEC's Preseason Player of the Year, to just four points. Still, five Missouri players scored in double figures.
Auburn (8-13, 2-6) sank a season high 32 free throws out of 36 attempts and tied its best percentage mark at 88.9 percent. The Tigers previously hit 30 free throws against Tennessee Tech on December 18. Auburn hit 15-of-16 from the foul line in the first half, a season high.
With the game tied after the first media timeout, Missouri (16-5, 5-3) came out and connected on back-to-back 3-pointers by former Auburn guard Earnest Ross to take a 13-7 lead. A steal and a dunk by Denson closed the Tigers to 18-15 with 9:42 to go before the half.
Twice Auburn was able to cut its deficit to a point in the first half, but both times Missouri answered, the second time with a three-point play by Jabari Brown. A fast break dunk by Bell widened Missouri's lead to double digits, 34-24, with 5:07 to go in the half.
A trey by Brian Greene Jr. made 41-35 in favor of Missouri with two minutes remaining before the half. Bell scored two in transition in the final minute to give Mizzou a 45-35 lead at the break. Greene, Jr. finished the game with nine points off the bench.
Sullivan came up with a steal and a slam to cut it to 49-41. Missouri responded with a 13-1 run to built a 20-point lead. Noel Johnson knocked down his first 3-pointer of the night to make it 62-45 with 13:24 remaining.
Two more free throws by Asauhn Dixon-Tatum left Auburn trailing 82-62 with less than six minutes remaining. Greene and Jordan Price sank back-to-back 3-pointers, and then Denson split a pair at the line to make it 86-69 with 3:27 remaining.
Auburn resumes play Wednesday when it hosts Alabama at 7 p.m. CT inside Auburn Arena.