Guard Bryce Brown scored a game-high 29 points to lead No. 14 Auburn to a 79-70 victory over South Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala., clinching at least a share of the Southeastern Conference regular-season title for the Tigers for the third time in program history and first since 1999.
The Tigers (25-6, 13-5 SEC) also earned the No. 1 seed in the SEC tourney that opens Wednesday in St. Louis.
Guard Frank Booker scored 27 points to lead the Gamecocks (16-15, 7-11), who got a double-double (19 points, 11 rebounds) from forward Chris Silva before he fouled out with 3:38 remaining and the Gamecocks down 67-58
The Gamecocks trailed for most of the second half and cut an 11-point deficit with 1:39 remaining down to six with only 1:01 left, but the Tigers were back up by 12 at 79-67 just 38 seconds later.
The two teams’ shooting fortunes were reversed from the first half to the second. South Carolina didn’t exactly light it up in the first half (37.0 percent) but made only 5 of its first 20 attempts in the second and shot only 31.4 percent the second period.
Auburn shot only 27.6 percent in the first 20 minutes, 50 percent in the second.
Auburn trailed 25-11 midway through the first period. At one point the Tigers were only 3-of-22 from the field, but they closed by making five of their last seven shots to get back into the game.
A 10-0 run helped the Tigers outscore the Gamecocks 16-3 over a six-minute span to cut the gap to 28-27 with 3:25 left in the half. The Tigers fell behind again 32-27 but fought back and took their first lead since a 5-4 advantage in the early minutes on guard Mustapha Heron’s two free throws that put them up 35-34 with 36.8 seconds left in the period.
Booker’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds gave the Gamecocks a 37-35 advantage at the break.
—Field Level Media