South Carolina falls at No. 14 Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. — South Carolina (16-15, 7-11 SEC) concluded the regular season on Saturday, suffering a 79-70 loss on the road at No. 14/15 Auburn (25-6, 13-5 SEC). Graduate transfer guard Frank Booker led the Gamecocks with the first double-double of his career, posting a team and career high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds in the loss. Junior forward Chris Silva collected his eighth double-double of the season before fouling out late in the second half, scoring 19 points and pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds.
South Carolina jumped out to an early advantage, which stretched to 14 points with 9:17 remaining in the first half, as sophomore forward Maik Kotsar’s lay-in would make it 25-11 Gamecocks. Auburn would slowly chip away at the advantage however, and a 3 from Auburn’s Chuma Okeke with 3:51 to play before the break would pull the Tigers within two at 26-24.
The Tigers pulled within one, but Silva and rookie forward Felipe Haase would answer with consecutive lay-ups and the Gamecock advantage was back to five at 32-27 with two minutes to go in the half. Auburn’s Bryce Brown would finish the half with his fourth 3-pointer with a minute to go, but Booker would answer for Carolina late, and the Gamecocks held a 37-35 upper hand at the break.
Auburn would tie the contest early in the second half, and another 3 from Brown would give the Tigers a 49-43 lead with 14 minutes to play. Silva scored on back-to-back dunks with nine minutes to play to pull the Gamecocks within two at 51-49, but Auburn answered, and free throws would push the Tiger lead back to seven with just under seven minutes to go.
From there, Auburn would hold its advantage, leading by as many as 12 the rest of the way. A final 3 from Booker with a minute to play would pull the Gamecocks within six but the Tigers pushed the lead back to double-digits with just over 20 seconds to play. Auburn clinched at least a share of the SEC title with the victory.
After shooting below 30 percent in the first half, Auburn shot 50 percent (14-for-28) in the second half. The Tigers also forced 20 Carolina turnovers.
- Graduate transfer guard Frank Booker recorded his first career double-double, recording career-highs in points (27) and rebounds (10). He knocked down five 3s and was 8-for-8 at the free throw line.
- Junior forward Chris Silva had 19 points and 11 rebounds, for his eighth double-double of the 2017-18 season (13th career). He went 8-for-10 from the field in 30 minutes of action.
- Today’s game marks the first time since Michael Carrera (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Sindarius Thornwell (18 points, 11 rebounds) at Georgia, Feb. 2, 2016 that two Carolina players tallied double-doubles in the same game.
- Graduate transfer guard Wesley Myers led the bench players with 11 points.
South Carolina awaits the final bracket reveal for the 2018 SEC Tournament, which will be held next week in St. Louis at the Scottrade Center. Gamecock fans should keep an eye out on Saturday night for the official Tournament bracket.
Gamecocks Athletics contributed to this article.