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Tip-Off Countdown: #32 Auburn 73 South Carolina 64

Jared Harper bounced back from a tough first game in Nashville to lead the Tigers to Semifinal Saturday

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-South Carolina vs Auburn Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

March 15, 2019 - Bridgestone Arena: Nashville

SEC Quarterfinals

In Auburn’s first game of the SEC Tournament, Auburn won despite Jared Harper being held to 5 points. In order for Auburn to move on to Semifinal Saturday, the Tigers needed a big game and much more than 5 points from Harper....

Insert Nostradamus.

For Auburn, it was a chance to avenge a tough loss to South Carolina back in January and the bracket had opened up for Auburn after Florida had knocked top seed off LSU in Overtime of the first game of the day. If Auburn could take care of South Carolina, they would be favored to find their way into Championship Sunday.

The Tigers would have to try and find a way to slow down Chris Silva or make sure they didn’t let someone else beat them as Silva had his way with Auburn.

Harper would get things started though for Auburn with a 3-pointer, a good sign. But that would be Auburn’s only points in the first 6 minutes before a 3 from Samir Doughty ended the scoring drought. The combination of Doughty’s defense and Harper’s speed for a laypu would tie the game at 8 moments later.

Bryce Brown had a scoreless 1st half against Missouri as well but knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 11-10 Auburn with 12:26 to go. The teams would swap the lead the next 4 minutes but South Carolina would find themselves ahead 22-16 with about 8 minutes left in the half.

Insert the spark off the bench: Austin Wiley. He didn’t play much in the SEC Tournament but the minutes he played were huge for Auburn.

Wiley came in and scored on his first offensive possession and gave the Tigers a solid 3 minute spark off the bench. That would be his only stint of the game but it seemed to galvanize the group.

Down 24-18 with 5:50 left in the half, Horace Spencer would come back into the game for Wiley and score on his first possession back in. The Gamecocks would turn it over on back to back possessions resulting in back to back 3s from Brown and Harper to put Auburn ahead 26-24.

In the closing moments of the half, Auburn would get a 3rd 1st-half 3 from Brown and Danjel Purifoy made a 3 as the shot clock expired to tie the game at 36 with 22 seconds left in the half and that was the score after 20 minutes.

Each team would come out in the first 4 minutes of the half and knock down a pair of 3s. Brown’s 5th 3-pointer 5 minutes into the half put Auburn ahead 48-44. Jared would score the next 9 for Auburn, 7 of those from the free throw over the next 7 minutes giving Auburn a 57-54 lead with 8 minutes to go.

Auburn would get some separation moments later from 3s from some unlikely sources. Danjel Purifoy, who had himself a good SEC Tournament and played some big minutes in this one due to foul trouble from Chuma Okeke, hit his 2nd 3 of the game and then we saw the 3rd career 3-pointer for one Horace Spencer to give Auburn a 63-56 lead.

While Harper and Brown kept the Tigers afloat, the play that sent South Carolina home for the season came from Okeke who only had 1 bucket in this one, but it was a memorable one.

Up 10 with less than 2 minutes to go, Jared Harper would set Okeke up for the knockout blow:

Game. Set. Match.

Despite Chris Silva getting 27 points and 11 rebounds in his final collegiate game for South Carolina, Auburn would pull away late in this one to move on to the Semifinals of the SEC Tournament.

The guard trio of Harper, Brown and Samir Doughty combined for 56 of Auburn’s 73 points on the afternoon. Jared Harper led the way for Auburn with 27 points, going 12-14 from the free throw line, while also pulling down 6 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists. And let’s just say after being snubbed from the All-SEC First Team earlier in the week, Bruce Pearl wasn’t afraid to tell everyone how good Jared Harper is.

Bryce Brown hit 5 3-pointers and scored 19 points. Doughty had 10 points and 5 rebounds.

Danjel Purifoy played 17 minutes off the bench and had 6 points and 5 rebounds, knocking down both of his shots, 3-pointers.

Here are the highlights!