Heron leads Auburn to 89-78 win over Missouri
AUBURN, Ala. -- Mustapha Heron made every shot he took in the first half, and the Auburn Tigers didn't miss many either.
Heron scored 20 points and the Tigers shot nearly 70 percent before halftime in an 89-78 victory Saturday over Missouri. It was the regular-season finale for both teams.
Auburn (18-13, 7-11 Southeastern Conference) built a 20-point lead in the first half and didn't cool down much, shooting a season-best 56.1 percent.
"We were moving the ball," said Heron, who made all five of his attempts in the first 20 minutes. "We were getting good looks. We were hitting. Everything was going right."
Heron missed only his seventh and final shot and made all three of his 3-point attempts to help hand Missouri (7-23, 2-16) its sixth straight loss. The two teams will meet again in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
T.J. Dunans scored 16 points before fouling out when he and Jordan Geist were called for a double technical late after jawing at each other. Danjel Purifoy made 5 of 7 shots for 13 points. Anfernee McLemore had eight points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.
Kevin Puryear led Missouri with 19 points despite 4-of-14 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. He made 10 of 12 free throws. Terrence Phillips scored 15. Geist made four 3-pointers and scored 13 points, along with five assists. Jordan Barnett added 12 points.
"When a team is hitting shots like that, it deflates you," Barnett said. "We just had to keep pushing. We responded well in the second half. We had nothing to lose at that point."
Missouri pulled to within 56-48 three minutes into the second half on 3-pointers by Barnett and Geist. Auburn scored the next eight points and wasn't seriously threatened again.
Auburn made 12 straight shots during one first-half stretch, riding a 21-5 run to a 14-point lead.
"We took good shots," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "Mustapha Heron would be a great example. He's 6 for 7; talk about being efficient."
Missouri did outscore Auburn 38-35 in the second half.
"I thought they shot the ball extremely well," Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. "I don't think we were playing with the highest level of energy early in the game that you need to play against a team that's that explosive. Plus it's Senior Night, so they're fired up and their guys are playing maybe with a little extra energy than normal."
Missouri, which came in last in the SEC in 3-point shooting, went 13 of 38 from long range. Guard Frankie Hughes was helped off the court with a left ankle injury with 8:40 left but returned a couple of minutes later. The Tigers made 21 of 26 foul shots.