By Jeff Shearer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mustapha Heron's double-double, with 15 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, was not enough to lead Auburn to a third victory this season over Missouri.
Kevin Puryear's buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Missouri an overtime win, 86-83, in the first round of the SEC Tournament Wednesday. Puryear scored 30.
"Give that kid credit for stepping up and putting that team on his back," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
"We're obviously very disappointed," Pearl said. "We felt like we were a couple wins away from getting into the NIT and continuing to play.
"I give Missouri credit. Those kids obviously battled. We had plenty of opportunities to make offensive plays, or shots or free throws. We had opportunities to get defensive stops and stay with shooters and we just didn't."
With a record of 18-14, Auburn will see if any postseason opportunities might arise.
"Let's talk about that next week," Pearl said.
"We're scoring enough to win, but we're one of the worst defensive teams in the league," Pearl said. "Part of it is the effort and energy. Part of it is the execution of the game plan."
Auburn made 11 3's, bringing the season total to 289, breaking the 1995-96 team's record of 287.
"I think the difference in the game was just getting stops, making plays defensively," Heron said. "I blame myself for a lot of that. I don't think I came through late, down the stretch. That's something I'm working on for next year."
Leading by 3 in regulation, an Auburn turnover with 15 seconds to go set the stage for Frankie Hughes' game-tying 3 with 1.8 seconds remaining. Auburn committed 16 turnovers.
Mizzou made 16 3-pointers, including another by Hughes to tie it at 83 with 1:21 to go in overtime. Auburn then missed two chances to take the lead.
Brown made 4 3-pointers in the second half. Heron's layup after an offensive rebound was part of a 7-0 run that gave Auburn a 49-45 lead.
T.J. Dunans scored 8 straight points down the stretch, giving Auburn a 10-point lead with 5:04 to play.
"Defense and rebounding," Heron said. "That's what it's been all season, between us winning and losing."
Auburn made 6-of-11 3-pointers in the first half but trailed 36-35 at intermission.
Auburn made 4 of its last 5 shots in the half to close the gap. Heron and Johnson each scored 11 in the half.
"Auburn's a good basketball team," said Missouri coach Kim Anderson. "We played a lot better than last time." Auburn beat Missouri 89-78 last Saturday on Senior Day.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer