Auburn forward Jabari Smith (10) drives to the basket around Kentucky forward Jacob Toppin (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Missouri hosts newly crowned No. 1 Auburn

For the first time in program history, Auburn (18-1, 7-0) is the top-ranked team in college basketball after jumping Gonzaga in the Week 12 AP Poll. Coming off a victory against No.12 Kentucky, Auburn looks to continue their 15 game win streak as they travel to Colombia tonight to face Missouri (8-10, 2-4).

Auburn has Depth and Upside

Bruce Pearl’s squad is deep. They boast a roster filled with NBA-caliber underclassmen and reliable veterans. Pearl plays 11 players at least 10 minutes per game, with four of those averaging double-figure scoring (Jabari Smith, Wendell Green Jr., K.D. Johnson and Walker Kessler).

In the Kentucky game, Smith, Green, Johnson and Kessler all scored double digits while being dominant on defense. The duo of Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith has been taken the SEC by storm. Kessler has the best two-point shooting percentage and block percentage in the SEC. Smith, who is projected to be the No.1 draft pick, has been efficient all season. He currently averages 15.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals in just 27.2 minutes per game while shooting 43% from deep.

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Missouri’s Mission

With a record of 8-10, it is unlikely that Missouri will make the NCAA Tournament. This means that in their only meeting with Auburn this season, they look to prove their resilience by keeping the newly crowned No. 1 team on their toes.

Facing Auburn will be Missouri’s biggest test this season. In order to win, Missouri will need to exploit Auburn’s biggest weakness on defense, which is their fouling. Auburn ranks below Missouri in the number of free throws they give up. Missouri has also been shooting just over 45 percent from deep. This could be a bit of an issue for Auburn as they surprisingly rank 101 in defending the three.

This season, Missouri did upset No. 15 Alabama on Jan. 8 when The Tide traveled to Colombia. Against No. 1 ranked teams, Missouri is 4-18 all-time, but three of their four wins against No.1 teams have been in Colombia.

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With Auburn sitting at the top of college basketball, Missouri looks to upset them and get a marquee win when they face off at 8:30 tonight in the Mizzou Arena.

About Kate Caranante

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