Missouri had trailed every power-five conference opponent it played by at least 20 at some point in each loss this season.
The Tigers turned the tables on visiting Auburn, winning 76-61 on Saturday at Mizzou Arena and snapping a nine-game skid against high-major competition.
“This was as ready as I’ve seen this group all year,” second-year coach Kim Anderson said.
With under 7 minutes remaining, senior Ryan Rosburg caught the ball on the left block and moved his defender with a ball fake before a spin that allowed him to feather a left-handed hook off the glass for a 68-48 lead.
Missouri, now 8-7 and 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference, didn’t stop there, adding three more buckets in rapid succession in burying Auburn.
Freshman K.J. Walton had two layups as MU surged in front by as many as 26 in helping send the crowd of 6,533 home elated.
“It meant a lot for us, especially coming off a tough road loss at Georgia,” freshman forward Kevin Puryear said. “It was great for our confidence.”
Missouri’s lead never dipped below 12 points in the second half as Anderson’s Tigers shrugged off a sluggish start. MU took control down the stretch in the first half behind freshman Kevin Puryear and held off coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers in the second half.
“We beat a power-five school,” Anderson said. “You guys want to write that down to start with? OK. I thought our guys played so hard and really prepared themselves over the last couple of days.”
Puryear, who spent 10 minutes after the game signing autographs for kids in attendance, led four Missouri players in double figures, finishing with 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for his first college double-double.
“It was actually motivated by my mother,” Puryear said. “She called me on the phone (Friday) and said, ‘I don’t think you’re being intense enough.’ So, I was like, ‘All right, mom. I’ll see what I can do on the intensity part.’”
Sophomore Tramaine Isabell added 12, while sophomore Namon Wright and freshman K.J. Walton scored 10 each.
Four players — Isabell, Wright, sophomore D’Angelo Allen and freshman Terrence Phillips — chipped in four rebounds as Missouri won 41-34 on the boards.
Phillips also dished a game-best four assists for MU, which committed only eight turnovers and outscored Auburn 30-18 in the paint.
It was Missouri’s largest victory against a conference foe since beating Mississippi State 85-66 on March 1, 2014.
Entering Saturday, Missouri’s last win against a high-major team was March 3 against Auburn at home on then-senior Keith Shamburger’s jumper in the closing seconds.
Auburn, 7-7 and 1-2 in the SEC, led by four early in the first half, but Missouri was in front for the final 27 minutes.
The game got off to a sloppy start. It was tied 4-4 after 5 minutes with most of the fireworks coming from the officials, who issued a double technical to Missouri junior Wes Clark and Auburn junior Kareem Canty. Pearl also received a technical and both benches received a warning.
Canty, who entered the game averaging 19.5 points, finished with nine points and only one three-pointer.
“One of our keys was to do a good job on Canty, because I think he’s a tremendous player, and we did,” Anderson said.