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South Carolina at #5 Auburn Game Preview and Open Thread

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An Outright SEC Title is on the line in the regular season finale for Auburn

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Mississippi State Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday March 5th, 2022

South Carolina Gamecocks at Auburn Tigers

Neville Arena

Time: 12:00PM CT

Network: SEC Network, Auburn Radio Network

4 years ago, Auburn clinched a share of their first SEC title in nearly 20 years in the regular season finale. Their opponent that day? South Carolina

Fast forward 4 years and this time, Auburn has already clinched at least a share of a SEC title but wants the whole thing to themselves. Standing in their way today? You guessed it, South Carolina.

The Tigers (26-4, 14-3) finish the regular season today by hosting South Carolina (18-11, 9-8), a team that comes into Auburn having won 5 of their last 6 games. The Gamecocks are in a 3-way tie with Alabama and Florida for 5th place at 9-8 in the league. These two teams played back in Columbia on January 4th, an 81-66 Auburn victory.

That game was one that saw contributions up and down the entire lineup. Wendell Green had 22 points to lead the way. Zep Jasper had 13 points in his return to the state of South Carolina. Walker Kessler had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks and Jabari Smith had 10 points. The biggest thing I remember from that game was the play of the bench who gave Auburn a spark midway through the first half and allowed the Tigers to build a comfortable lead that they were able to hang onto. For South Carolina, they were led in that game by Erik Stevenson who made 5 3s and had 25 points for the Gamecocks.

Going back to Wednesday though first, and in classic Auburn fashion, they didn’t make it easy in getting the win to clinch at least a share of the SEC title. It took overtime, but Auburn defeated Mississippi State 81-68 on Wednesday night to do just that. Jabari Smith had 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Tigers and KD Johnson saved his best for last scoring 12 of his 14 points in Overtime. Auburn scored 20 points in the overtime period after being held to 21 2nd half points. It’s a trend that we’ve seen a lot this season though where Auburn has had big leads and let them slip away. This time though, Auburn was able to put it together at the end to win on the road for the first time in 3 12 weeks. Road games are done though now and today is the final chapter in the Nev.

Auburn with a win would clinch the 1 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in Tampa. If Auburn loses, they will be the 2 seed behind the winner of Arkansas-Tennessee who would share the title with Auburn and have the tiebreaker by virtue of defeating Auburn.

Prediction

Auburn was able to find a way to win a game they had to have on Wednesday night and at worse, they’re SEC Co-Champions. But this team doesn’t want to share the title and neither does this fanbase. In addition to winning the SEC title outright, Auburn is also looking to do something they haven’t done since 1998-1999 today; finish the season undefeated at home. Auburn went 15-0 during the 1998-1999 season and this year’s Tigers team looks to go 16-0 at home. South Carolina will make it tough but I think Auburn has too much at the end and will be able to celebrate a SEC title in style in front of the home fans.

Auburn 83 South Carolina 71