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Auburn at South Carolina Game Preview and Open Thread

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Auburn looks to break a 3-game losing streak in Columbia

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday January 23, 2021

Auburn Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks

Colonial Life Arena - Columbia, South Carolina

Time: 11 AM

Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network

In the Bruce Pearl era, there are just 3 teams that Auburn has not beaten on the road. Two of those are Kentucky and Florida. The other one is South Carolina.

Auburn (8-7, 2-5) looks to check that off the list as the Tigers have a yet another early Saturday contest, this time on the road against South Carolina (3-4, 1-2). The Gamecocks are one of the biggest mysteries this season in the SEC as they have dealt with COVID issues throughout the season, cancelling several games. Today is Auburn’s 16th game while only the 8th for the Gamecocks.

Get to Know South Carolina

Unfortunately, we do not have a Q&A today, so you’ll just have to read my thoughts instead. Today is only the 3rd home game that South Carolina has played all season. They have had to postpone 3 SEC games and canceled 5 of their non-conference games this season.

Frank Martin’s team has an identical scoring margin, averaging and allowing 72 PPG so far this season.

Junior guard AJ Lawson (#00) leads the way for South Carolina averaging 16.6 PPG this season. Missouri held him to 5 points his last time out but averaged 26 PPG against Texas A&M and LSU so Lawson is due for a bounce back game.

Junior forward Keyshawn Bryant (#24) has turned in impressive performances in back to back games since the team’s return from COVID. He’s averaging 13.4 PPG this season and scored a career high 26 at LSU before following that up with 19 at Missouri.

Redshirt sophomore guard Jermaine Couisnard (#5) is 3rd on the team averaging 11.6 PPG. Couisnard led South Carolina with 16 points in last year’s meeting against the Tigers.

Redshirt junior forward Justin Minaya (#10) is averaging 9.1 PPG and is the team leader with 8.1 RPG this season.

Finally, anchoring the paint is sophomore Wildens Leveque (#15). The 6’10” 240 pounder dealt with foul trouble his last time out but had 12 points and 8 rebounds at LSU. He’s averaging 6.1 PPG this season.

Keys for Auburn

Wednesday night was a tough loss for Auburn, a game in which they built an early 19 point lead and couldn’t hang on to it. The Tigers missed some free throws down the stretch and then were on the short end of a no call on Sharife’s attempted game-winner in the closing seconds. It was definitely a disappointing loss considering the team held the top two scorers for Arkansas in check.

Sharife Cooper tripled his career 3-pointers total by knocking down a pair against Arkansas on his way to a 25 point game. With teams continuing to double him, how he will be able to adjust?

Wednesday was a tough night for Allen Flanigan who dealt with foul trouble and finished with just 7 points. This is a great chance for Allen to bounce back.

Auburn needs more out of Jaylin Williams. There are times when he looks great (Ole Miss game) and times where you wonder where he is on the floor. He had just 2 points Wednesday night and my hope for Jayliin is he looks to be more aggressive on the offensive end.

Devan Cambridge had his coming out party the last time these teams faced off which was a year ago yesterday.

Devan went for 26 points on 10-14 shooting, 6-9 from 3 and we got a great soundbite from Coach Pearl postgame about Devan’s performance.

It would be great to see Devan give us something in the semblances of this today.

Finally, one of the bright spots that came out of Wednesday night was the play from Javon Franklin. He made the most of his 11 minutes scoring 8 points, including a pair of 3-pointers and gave the team a spark when he was on the court. Does Franklin earn some more minutes today?

Prediction

After winning 3 straight games in Columbia in the early 2010s, Colonial Life Arena has turned into a house of horrors for Auburn lately, much like Memorial Gym at Vanderbilt has been. Auburn lost by 29 in the 2016-2017 season, the momentum of the dream season of 2017-2018 season was greatly halted by the awful injury to Anfernee McLemore and then a no-call on a late 3 resulted in a 3-point loss the last time these teams played in Columbia 2 years ago. What happens today?

Can the Tigers get big games from guys other than Sharife Cooper? We’ll see.

I’ve had terrible luck picking Auburn to win in SEC play and with this being on the road....

South Carolina 74 Auburn 68