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Sharife Cooper leads Auburn past No. 12 Missouri

AUBURN, Ala. – Sharife Cooper took over in the second half, turning the game in Auburn’s favor, but it was Allen Flanigan’s one-handed slam in the final minutes that proved to be the exclamation point in an 88-82 win over No. 12 Missouri on Tuesday night.

With Auburn up seven and just under two minutes remaining, Flanigan took off from midcourt, blew by his defender and threw it down with his left hand.

Cooper fittingly put the game away late with three free throws in the final 30 seconds. The freshman point guard scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half and also led the team in both rebounds (8) and assists (7). He scored three straight buckets in a span of two minutes to put the home Tigers in front 66-62, and they never trailed again.

Cooper was 18 of 21 from the charity stripe, breaking the Auburn record for free throws made in a game and tying the program record for free throw attempts.

For Auburn, it was the highest-ranked team the Tigers have beaten in the regular season since March 9, 2019 (No. 5 Tennessee, 84-80). It was also the eighth win in their 11 games against ranked opponents.

In the first half, Auburn jumped out to a 26-13 lead with JT Thor scoring nine points in the game’s first 10 minutes, but when Cooper was called for his third foul with 5:06 remaining, the game changed. Cooper didn’t return until the 17:17 mark in the second half, and during that stretch, Missouri went on a 21-9 to grab a 45-41 lead.

Flanigan and Jaylin Williams also picked up two fouls apiece in the first half, but the Auburn bench responded in the first 20 minutes and again in key moments in the second half.

Freshman Chris Moore knocked down back-to-back 3s in the first half, helping Auburn jump out to a big lead. He also knocked down a third 3 midway through the first half to break a 57-57 tie and give his team the lead. Moore finished with a career-high 11 points.

Devan Cambridge and Dylan Cardwell each added eight points off the bench while Babatunde Akingbola finished with three points and a career-high five blocked shots. 

As a team, Auburn swatted 14 shots on the night. Akingbola led the way with five, but Thor had four blocks, Williams had two, and three other players finished with one. The Tigers are now the NCAA Division I leader with 106 total blocks on the season.

It won’t get any easier for Auburn (10-7, 4-5) on Saturday with a road trip to No. 2 Baylor on deck. The game is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN.

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