March 4, 2017
By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - After defeating Missouri 89-78 on Senior Day Saturday, Auburn will try to repeat the feat in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
Auburn, the No. 11 seed, will play Mizzou, the No. 14 seed, Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn.
"It's good to get this one and play better," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "Defensively, I thought we were pretty engaged."
"We were moving the ball. We were getting good looks. We were hitting," Heron said. "Everything was going right."
Auburn earned win No. 18, finishing the regular season with a 7-11 record in SEC play, the highest conference win total since 2009.
Auburn outrebounded Missouri, 41-32, enjoying a 44-16 advantage in points in the paint.
An 8-0 run, including 3's by Heron and Dunans, helped Auburn maintain a double-digit lead in the second half.
"I just came out and just tried to have fun," Dunans said. "Play my best game, my last home game. I was just trying to have fun."
Bryce Brown's 3, and Purifoy's acrobatic drive put Auburn up 75-60.
"It was great to see our seniors lead us to victory," Pearl said. "I thought all three of them were engaged, particularly T.J. Dunans demonstrating what he can do, the impact he can have on a game."
At the request of Auburn's underclassmen, Pearl started graduate transfers Ronnie Johnson and LaRon Smith, along with Dunans, Heron and Wiley. Smith blocked two shots and grabbed two rebounds. Johnson scored six points with six rebounds, adding three assists.
Auburn (18-13) led 54-40 at the half, using a 12-0 run to take control early.
Heron, who hit his first six shots, broke an 8-8 tie with a 3-pointer. Auburn led the rest of the game.
Dunans followed with a steal and slam.
Brown assisted on two dunks, an alley oop to McLemore, and a no-look pass to Wiley. In between, Brown hit a 3-pointer.
Dunans beat the shot clock with a driving, spinning basket, extending Auburn's lead to 15, 40-25.
Auburn reached the half-century mark with 2:26 left in the half on Purifoy's 3 to lead 50-30. The visiting Tigers pulled within 14 by intermission.
Kevin Puryear led Missouri (7-23, 2-16) with 19.
Auburn will try to beat Mizzou for the third time this season Wednesday in the Music City.
"For them to just come out hard," Heron said. "We've got to come harder. Can't be lax when we go out there. We're going to prepare."
"It's not what they're going to do, it's what we're going to do," Dunans said. "Are we going to play defense? Are we going to play defense consistently? Is everybody going to come down and rebound, help the bigs out?"
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer