Published Saturday, February 02, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – Keion Bell scored 24 points and Earnest Ross added 23, both season highs, as No. 17 Missouri used another strong second half to beat Auburn 91-77 on Saturday.
Ross hit five 3-pointers off the bench in his first game against his former team. The 6-foot-5, 222-pound guard played two seasons at Auburn, leading the team with 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
The teams combined for 49 fouls and 69 free throws but the slogging pace didn't seem to affect Missouri (16-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference), which shot 54.5 percent from the floor after shooting 38 percent in a 73-70 loss at LSU on Wednesday.
Frankie Sullivan led Auburn (8-13, 2-6) with 12 points, while Rob Chubb and Chris Denson both had 10.
The Tigers moved to 13-0 at Mizzou Arena, joined by only Florida in the SEC as unbeaten teams at home. Missouri also benefited from having its full roster of players available to play for just the third time this season.
After scoring the final four points of the first half to lead 45-35 at the break, Missouri used a 13-1 run ending with Jabari Brown's layup with 13:43 remaining to give it a comfortable lead the rest of the way. Missouri is averaging 41.9 points in the second half this season compared to 34.6 points in the first half.
Bell, who missed Wednesday's game with an ailing shoulder, started and gave Missouri a couple of highlight plays during the first half with breakaway dunks after two steals. Bell teamed up with Phil Pressey to draw the loudest applause from the crowd with 24 seconds remaining in the first half when Pressey dribbled around three defenders and found Bell open underneath the basket for an easy layup.
Alex Oriakhi scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, but his three-point play with 12:36 remaining gave him 1,002 points for his career. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward scored 789 points in three seasons at Connecticut before transferring, and is averaging a career-high 10.4 points per game on 57.7 percent shooting this season.
Auburn dropped its sixth consecutive game since starting conference play with wins against LSU and at South Carolina. In its last five games, Auburn is shooting 35.5 percent, including 25 percent from beyond the arc.
Auburn went 9 of 28 from the floor in the first half but stayed within single digits by converting 15 of 16 free throws. Auburn also kept the rebounding deficit to 18-17 at halftime against the No. 2 rebounding team in the country. But poor shooting continued to plague Auburn in the second half (10 for 25) as Missouri pulled away.
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