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Auburn Falls at South Carolina, 84-75

Huge first half from the Gamecocks proves too much for Auburn to erase.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn couldn’t hit threes, couldn’t hold onto the ball, and couldn’t stop South Carolina in the first half, and the Gamecocks used a huge lead to hold on and win 84-75.

With the loss, Auburn drops to 23-4 overall, and 11-3 in the SEC with four games left to play. The Gamecocks improve to 5-9 in the league after a huge win at home.

South Carolina used their defensive prowess to slow the game down and harass Auburn in the first half en route to building a 26-point lead at 37-11 with 6:11 to go in the first half. The Tigers went just 1-11 from downtown in the opening half, and in the final 90 seconds lost Anfernee McLemore to a horrific ankle injury (which has since been upgraded to a dislocation after initial reports that it was broken). At the half, Auburn trailed 46-25.

However, things began to trend the Tigers’ way to start the second half. The offensive rebounding improved, and Auburn dominated the glass. Auburn cut the once-26-point hole down to single digits on Desean Murray’s three-point play with 8:43 to go. After the free throw, Auburn trailed 62-54, and two Bryce Brown free throws cut the deficit to five at 64-59, but that was as close as the Tigers would get.

A lengthy clock review on a possible change of possession erased a made Jared Harper three-pointer that would’ve cut the margin down to two, and the stoppage gave the Gamecocks a chance to regroup. After that, they stood tall and played even basketball the rest of the way, establishing a ten point lead again and hanging on as the Tigers tried to come back down the stretch.

The two teams combined for 56 fouls, and shot 75 foul shots in this ballgame that lasted well over two-and-a-half hours. Mustapha Heron led Auburn with 16 points, but only three made field goals (he went 10-11 at the line), while Frank Booker paced South Carolina with 19 points, including four threes. Bryce Brown began the game 0-8 from behind the arc, and the Tigers finished just 5-27 from downtown, good for 19%.

Auburn will host Alabama this coming Wednesday at Auburn Arena, with tipoff coming at 7:30 pm CST in the revenge game. The Tigers currently still hold a game and a half lead over Tennessee in the SEC standings, with the tiebreaker as well. Losses today by Alabama, Florida, and Missouri have given the Tigers a three-game lead over those squads with four games left to play.