|No. 19 Auburn faces Missouri in battle of Tigers|
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl is a little worried.
"Our 3-point percentage defense is not very good," Pearl said Monday, according to the website SEC Country. "I think that has to do with some of our size. Teams that shoot open 3's tend to make them. When they get contested 3's, either because of length or things like that, they tend to miss them."
On Wednesday, 19th-ranked Auburn will travel to face a Missouri team that features three players -- Jordan Barnett, Kassius Robertson and Jordan Geist -- who all shoot better than 40 percent from behind the arc.
Auburn is 145th in the nation in 3-point field goal defense at 34.5 percent. Robertson, Missouri's leading scorer (15.2 points per game), has shot 42 percent from deep while making 55 3-pointers.
But he's coming off back-to-back disappointing games.
In a win over Tennessee last week and a Saturday loss at Texas A&M, Robertson was 2-for-10 from beyond the arc and just 4-for-23 overall.
Robertson said Missouri is still "learning to win" and needs to bounce back from past mistakes.
"It doesn't really matter if you can't finish," he told The Kansas City Star.
And finishing has been a problem.
On Saturday, Missouri rallied to within one midway through the second half but couldn't stay with the Aggies late.
"You've got to do it consistently," Robertson said. "We've been in countless close games this season. We've got to learn how to consistently keep leads and take care of the ball at the end of the game and execute at the end of the game."
Over its past eight games, Missouri (13-6, 3-3 SEC) alternated wins and losses, but as Pearl noted, is 12-1 at home.
"They've lost once at home -- to Florida at the buzzer," Pearl said. "They've played a very tough schedule. They're really good. They're big, they're deep, they're picked really high in our league -- they're one of the better ball-screen teams that I've seen, and they shoot the 3 really well."
On Wednesday, Auburn saw its nation's-longest win streak snapped at 14 games in a 76-71 loss at Alabama. Auburn hadn't lost in two months.
But Auburn had 14 steals and six blocks in a 79-65 win over Georgia on Saturday.
"We pressed the whole game full court, and I thought it might take its toll," Pearl said. "(Georgia) plays some guys heavy minutes. We just tried to wear them out."
And the Bulldogs were worn out, missing their first 14 shots of the second half and shooting 25 percent while being outscored 53-25.
Still, Pearl doesn't want to have to depend on second-half heroics.
"Bottom line is we got to start playing better early," he said, according to AL.com, "because we're not going to continue to be able to come back and win those games."
Auburn, which will have sizes issues inside and outside against Missouri, will need a repeat performance from Bryce Brown, who made 5 of 9 shots from long range and scored 28 points in the win on Saturday.
Brown is 6-foot-3, but his backcourt partner, Jared Harper, is 5-11, and Auburn's tallest starter, 6-foot-7 Anfernee McLemore, will have to contend with a Missouri front line that runs 6-11, 6-10 and 6-7.
"Bryce Brown is a tough cover," Pearl told SEC Country. "People are starting to now hip-pocket him and just chase him everywhere he goes. He is going to see a different level of attention now, so we will figure out how we will take advantage of that."