Auburn went on the road, played a 4-1 South Carolina team, and couldn’t get anything going against a rough squad on their home floor, falling 80-77 to the Gamecocks. Chris Silva controlled the game from start to finish, and an uneven showing from the officials early put Auburn in foul trouble from the start.
Just like last season’s matchup at Colonial Life Arena, Auburn started slowly on offense. The Tigers missed their first eight three-pointers, and couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. Auburn put South Carolina into the double bonus five minutes into the ballgame and couldn’t match up with the roughness of the Gamecocks’ post players, particularly Chris Silva. The Gamecocks held a 30-20 lead with 5:48 to play before halftime, and that was the time that Auburn adjusted. The Tigers strung together an 11-1 run to tie the game at 31 on Jared Harper’s slashing layup, and Horace Spencer’s dunk gave Auburn it’s first lead of the ballgame at 33-31. Bryce Brown hit a pair of free throws at the end of the half to give the Tigers a 38-37 edge at halftime, but there was foul trouble brewing.
In the second period, Auburn’s foul trouble started mounting up, as Anfernee McLemore and Horace Spencer fouled out within seconds of each other, leaving the Tigers with a small lineup and several minutes to play. South Carolina built a 71-61 lead on seven straight makes from the floor, but the Tigers weren’t quite dead yet. Auburn strung together five straight buckets for a 12-0 run to take a 73-71 lead, and they finally started to force Chris Silva to commit fouls in the paint. Tied at 75 with :56 left to go, Jared Harper was fouled near midcourt and hit a pair of foul shots to regain the lead for Auburn at 77-75, but Felipe Haase hit a wide open three to put the Gamecocks back up with :25, and the Tigers would have one last shot, but a missed Chuma Okeke three led to free throws for South Carolina, and they’d ice it at the line to win three.
Chris Silva dominated the entire game with 32 points and 14 rebounds, while both Harper and Brown finished with 17 points. Auburn now enters absolute must-win territory, but it’ll have to come against #24 Mississippi State on the road this Saturday.