Gamecocks fall to No. 22 Auburn in SEC Quarterfinals, 73-64
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jared Harper scored 27 points and No. 22 Auburn showcased its record-setting 3-point attack to beat South Carolina 73-64 on Friday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The fifth-seeded TIgers (24-9) won their sixth straight to advance to a Saturday semifinal against No. 8 seed Florida (19-14). The Gators eliminated the top seed in this tournament Friday with a 76-73 quarterfinal upset of No. 9 LSU.
South Carolina (16-16) waits to see whether it merits an NIT invitation. The fourth-seeded Gamecocks went 5-8 in nonconference action this season but earned the fourth seed in this tournament by going 11-7 in SEC play.
Auburn went 13 of 34 from 3-point range and broke the SEC record for 3-point baskets in a single season by increasing its total 368. That surpasses the record that had been held by Arkansas, which made 361 during its drive to an NCAA Tournament runner-up finish in 1995.
South Carolina and Auburn posted identical 11-7 SEC regular-season records, but the Gamecocks got the No. 4 seed and bye to the quarterfinals by virtue of their 80-77 victory over Auburn on Jan. 22.
Silva scored a career-high 32 points in that January game and started the rematch by picking up right where he left off. He had 14 points by halftime as South Carolina led for much of the first half.
Auburn rallied with its perimeter game and forced a 36-all halftime tie when Danjel Purifoy hit a 3-point shot with 23 seconds left as the shot clock was expiring.
The Tigers pulled ahead early in the second half and stayed in front thanks to Harper, who continually drew fouls driving to the basket and even once while attempting a 3-pointer.
Harper didn’t have any free-throw attempts in the first half but was 12 of 14 from the line in the second half.
Neither team ever led by more than six points until Auburn finally started to pull away in the last four minutes of the game.
> For a stretch midway through the second half, South Carolina held Auburn without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. But the Tigers made up for it at the free throw line, going 14-of-16 the final 20 minutes of the game.
> First Team All-SEC senior forward Chris Silva had 27 points and 11 rebounds, for his 12th double-double of the season (27th career). He finished 9-of-12 (75.0 percent) from the floor and a perfect 4-for-4 from distance.
> Senior graduate transfer Tre Campbell and sophomore big man Felipe Haase each finished with 12 points, rounding out the Gamecocks in double-figures.
> Campbell led the team with five assists and 37 minutes.
> All-SEC Freshmen Team selection A.J. Lawson played 13 minutes after missing the past three games with an ankle injury.