It all caught up to Auburn out on the road.
And the Tigers’ winning streak has come crashing down again.
Auburn shot dreadfully from the outside, struggled defensively without a key player, and saw frustrations boil over in an 85-73 loss at Missouri on Saturday night.
Auburn trailed by 13 at the half. The team missed its first 10 shots from 3-point range. Missouri soared over its scoring average after hitting 65-percent of its shots in the first half, while Auburn looked lost at times on the ESPN2 telecast without its best defensive player, Isaac Okoro.
Then in the second half, when Auburn trailed by 10 and was well on its way to seeing a six-game winning streak snapped, those struggles bubbles to the surface when freshman Devan Cambridge blatantly stepped on a down Missouri player and was promptly ejected.
Auburn fell to 20-3 on the season and 9-3 in the SEC, out of first place in the league standings. Missouri entered the game 12th in the SEC standings, now 12-13 and 4-8.
Auburn finished the game an abysmal 1-for-17 from 3-point range.
“It just didn’t happen tonight,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said when running down the effort postgame on the Auburn Sports Network’s radio broadcast.
At the time he was talking about other players stepping up in Okoro’s absence. Auburn finished with only seven bench points.
But the statement applied in plenty of places, and he could’ve been talking about a list of problems that were magnified Saturday.
Missouri entered the game averaging 66.5 points per game and scored 85.
Senior Austin Wiley recorded a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while fellow seniors J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty had 20 and 16.
But Missouri got 28 apiece from Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith and Auburn never seemed to truly threaten.
Missouri finished with 7-of-13 shooting from 3-point range for a 53.8-percent shooting efficiency from range. Missouri marked the fifth straight Auburn opponent to hit better than 37-percent of its 3-point shots. Giving up 37-percent from 3-point range on the season would rank a team somewhere around 330 out of 350 teams in perimeter defense this season.
“We weren’t good defensively,” Pearl said.
“Obviously Isaac is our best defender and he would’ve had either Pinson or Smith — and they both went off for 28,” he also said. “We just didn’t get enough there from anybody else that could guard. That’s the biggest issue.”
Okoro went down with a hamstring pull in the late minutes of Auburn’s game against Alabama last Wednesday.
Outside the usual big contributors in Wiley, Danjel Purifoy was Auburn’s next-best scorer with seven points.
“Without Isaac we needed more from our bench,” Pearl said. “We needed other guys to be able to step up and we didn’t get that.”
Whereas Auburn mustered double-digit comeback wins at Arkansas and at Ole Miss in its last two road games, there was no such magic in the cards for Auburn on Saturday. Counting those two games that went to overtime and two road losses to Alabama and Florida, Auburn has not won a road game in regulation since Jan. 4.
Auburn goes back on the road next Wednesday at rival Georgia.