AUBURN, Ala. – This is not the best time for Auburn to be making its first-ever trip to Mizzou Arena.
The struggling Tigers (8-12, 2-5 SEC) will face another set of Tigers (15-5, 4-3), who have tumbled down to a No. 17 ranking, but Missouri is an unblemished 12-0 with the home fans’ support.
“It is a tough arena and a great basketball environment,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “You can tell they feed off the crowd and push the tempo and play faster at home than they do on the road.”
This is the only meeting this season between Auburn and Missouri, in Mizzou’s first season as part of the SEC. Missouri has made the last four NCAA tournaments – including an Elite Eight berth in 2009 – averaging 26.8 wins during the stretch.
So barring a reasonably hefty upset effort Saturday afternoon, Auburn is staring at its first six-game losing streak in two years. Auburn has not won since Jan. 12, at South Carolina, with a 2-0 league start a distant memory.
Auburn has stayed competitive during its losing stretch – seven of the Tigers’ 12 defeats were one-possession games in the final minute of regulation. Barbee’s team is 0-4 in games decided by two points or less.
One of the fastest tempo teams in the country, Missouri has five players averaging double digits, led by senior forward Laurence Bowers (16.8 points, 6.8 rebounds). Phil Pressey’s 7.1 assists rank eighth in the country.
Tipoff’s at 1:47 p.m. ET, and can be seen on SEC Network carriers as well as ESPN3.com.