|9:25 ET, Mar 8, 2017
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee Attendance: 8,567
Missouri beats Auburn 86-83 at SEC, extends coach's tenure
By TERESA M. WALKER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Missouri coach Kim Anderson slapped some high-fives as he walked off the court and yelled out some words he knows he probably shouldn't have said.
Considering Missouri already announced the coach is done once this season ends, Anderson has nothing left to lose now.
"What are they going to do to me?" Anderson said. "See you tomorrow."
Kevin Puryear hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer , and Missouri rallied to beat Auburn 86-83 in overtime Wednesday night at the Southeastern Conference Tournament to keep Anderson working at least one game longer.
The 14th-seeded Tigers (8-23) snapped a six-game skid by rallying from 10 points down in the final five minutes of regulation, including hitting back-to-back 3s within the final 17 seconds to force overtime. They came away with their first win since Feb. 11 to advance to Thursday and a game against sixth-seeded Mississippi.
Anderson could only laugh when asked about the game-winning shot after the game.
"So many times where guys have had shots, and they just haven't made them," he said on SEC Network. "I think it's God's will. I think it's justice we win this game."
T.J. Dunans hit only one free throw for Auburn with 1:36 left, then missed a layup with 29 seconds left with the game tied at 83. Missouri took a timeout with 15.3 seconds left to setup the final shot, and Puryear knocked down the shot before running to mid-court to celebrate. Puryear finished with a career-best 30 points, including a career-best 5 of 9 from beyond the arc.
Puryear said the Tigers wanted to send Anderson out on a good note.
"It's been a long season, and we needed that," Puryear said.
No. 11 seed Auburn (18-14) missed its final four shots of overtime and also had chances to close out Missouri in regulation after leading 72-62 with 5:04 left.
Jared Harper went 2 of 4 at the free throw line in the final 42 seconds of regulation, his last free throw putting Auburn up 78-72 with 26.3 seconds to go.
Cullen Vanleer hit a 3-pointer with 16.8 seconds left, then Harper pushed Missouri guard Jordan Geist enough that he went flying as Harper brought the ball up the court. With the ball, Vanleer missed a 3. The ball went out to Frankie Hughes who knocked down a 3 with 1.8 seconds remaining on the clock to tie it up at 78.
Harper scored to put Auburn back up in overtime.
But Missouri knocked down a season-high 16 3s, three more than the Tigers managed in a loss to Auburn just five days ago.
"Obviously, Missouri's playing for Coach Anderson and playing relaxed," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "We had pressure on us. We're trying to win a couple games to go to the NIT. I think the pressure bothered us a little bit."
Vanleer had 16 points with five made 3s, Geist had 14 and Jordan Barnett added 11.
Missouri led 36-35 at halftime and was last up 45-44 with 16:05 left on a pair of Puryear free throws. Missouri didn't lead again until Puryear's 3 to clinch the comeback win.
Missouri: Anderson, whose firing was announced Sunday, isn't done yet. He'll coach one more game after notching his 301st career victory - Missouri's first SEC tournament win since 2014. He also picked up his first SEC tournament win. The Tigers weren't eligible for this tournament last year.
Auburn: The Tigers came in having won three of five SEC tournament games under Pearl and had hopes of trying to recreate their 2015 run of three wins in as many days. In failing to advance, the Tigers went just 24 of 36 (66.7 percent) at the free throw line.
Missouri: Playing No. 6 seed Ole Miss on Thursday night.
Auburn: Decision about whether to play in a smaller postseason tournament.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.
Updated March 9, 2017