Auburn, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jordan Clarkson netted a team-high 20 points, as No. 21 Missouri earned a hard-fought 70-68 victory over Auburn on Saturday at Auburn Arena.
Earnest Ross supplied 16 points and seven rebounds, while Jabari Brown added 15 points for Missouri (13-2, 1-1 SEC), which bounced back from an overtime loss to Georgia in its conference opener.
"We showed great toughness," Missouri head coach Frank Haith said. "We played together through some adversity and foul trouble. I thought our guys really held their composure and made some big plays. "
KT Harrell led all scorers with 27 points, while Tahj Shamsid-Deen donated 13 points and six assists for Auburn (8-5, 0-2), which has dropped two straight on the heels of a four-game win streak.
With Auburn trailing 66-63 and just under 3 1/2 minutes left, Harrell finished a layup before Chris Denson followed a missed 3-pointer from Brown with a bucket inside to put the home team on top by one with 1:51 to play.
Ross hit two free throws on Missouri's next trip to put his team back on top before blocking a Harrell shot at the other end.
After the team's exchanged empty possessions, Ross added two more from the charity stripe to extend Missouri's lead, but Denson drew a foul at the other end to keep Auburn alive with five seconds left.
Denson drained the first free throw and purposely missed the second, but Missouri's Torren Jones corralled the defensive rebound.
However, Jones' foot touched the baseline after he secured the board, giving the ball back to Auburn with 2.9 seconds left.
The opportunity went to waste, though, as Shamsid-Deen's inbounds pass was tipped away, allowing Missouri to escape with the win.
"When it matters the most, in those key moments, your execution has got be at its highest, and in those key moments, those last three or four possessions, our execution was at its lowest in this game," Auburn head coach Tony Barbee admitted.
A back-and-forth first half found Auburn clinging to a 30-25 edge late in the frame before Missouri closed the stanza on an 8-0 surge, capped by Brown's 3- pointer, to take a 33-30 lead into the break.
The teams exchanged buckets from there until Missouri used a 7-0 sprint, capped by Harrell's triple, to grab a 46-44 lead with 12:40 to play.
Missouri's margin was 51-48 just over two minutes later before Auburn ripped off eight straight points to grab a five-point lead with 8:13 left.
Alex Thompson's trey with 5:21 remaining brought the home team within 64-63.