The No. 21 Missouri Tigers lost their first game of SEC play against the much weaker Georgia Bulldogs, after coming into conference play 12-1. Along with their 12-1 non-conference record, there were very few marquee wins, and no wins over extremely talented opposition. The loss to Georgia hurt their 2014 NCAA Tournament chances, but the SEC would provide many opportunities for Missouri to shine.
Unfortunately, one of those chances would not be against the Tigers’ next opposition, the Auburn Tigers. Auburn was expected to finish as one of the worst teams in the SEC, which means that Missouri should have rolled over them with ease. However, the Tigers struggled and nearly lost the game.
Leading SEC scorer KT Harrell had 27 points, but an off night from another top scorer in the SEC, Chris Denson, led to Auburn falling just short of the upset and losing 70-68. Luckily for Missouri, Earnest Ross, Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson got it done when they had to and possibly saved the Tigers’ season.
Now at 13-2, Missouri will face the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville next, but will not face upper level SEC competition until Feb. 1 against the Kentucky Wildcats. The Tigers cannot afford to lose to a mid-range SEC team like the LSU Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide or Arkansas Razorbacks along the way.
Although they’ve stumbled early, expect the Tigers to overcome their early loss to Georgia and close game against Auburn and make it to the 2014 NCAA Tournament with ease.