Auburn Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Pick & Prediction MARCH 15th 2024

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No. 12 Auburn earned a double bye in the Southeastern Conference tournament by finishing in a tie for second place during the regular season.

The fourth-seeded Tigers will finally play their first game when they face 15th-ranked and fifth-seeded South Carolina in the quarterfinals on Friday in Nashville.

Auburn (24-7) wasn’t able to focus on its first opponent until the Gamecocks (26-6) defeated 12th-seeded Arkansas 80-66 in second-round action late Thursday afternoon.

“The players have been working on what we do,” Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said.

The coach will be satisfied if the Tigers can do Friday what they did six days earlier in 92-78 home victory against Georgia in the regular-season finale.

Auburn, which has six players averaging between seven and 16 points, logged 29 assists on 33 field goals versus the Bulldogs.

“We’re a hard team to scout because we’ve got so many guys who can shoot it and make plays,” Pearl said.

Johni Broome, an All-SEC first-team forward/center and one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, leads the Tigers with averages of 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds. All-SEC second-team forward Jaylin Williams is the second-leading scorer at 12.9 points per game.

“Assists are fun. They usually lead to a 3-ball or a crazy dunk,” Williams said. “When you get everyone involved, it’s fun. That’s Auburn basketball.”

Guard Denver Jones, who averages 8.7 points per game, scored 21 points on seven 3-pointers against Georgia.

“It’s time for everybody to start getting hot in March, playing with more confidence, taking open shots and knocking them down,” Jones said.

Auburn had a 13-5 SEC record, finishing just one game behind fifth-ranked Tennessee, but slipped behind No. 9 Kentucky and No. 19 Alabama in the tournament seedings because of tiebreakers.

The Gamecocks were the fourth team to tie for second place but came in fourth in the tiebreakers and had a single bye before facing the Razorbacks.

Auburn defeated visiting South Carolina 101-61 on Feb. 14.

Gamecocks guard Zachary Davis said the key to having a more competitive game in the rematch is “being more solid.”

“They shot the heck out of the ball the last time,” Davis said. “We didn’t play as hard and as together in that game as we usually do. The key is everyone flying around and playing as one.”

In South Carolina’s win against Arkansas, SEC All-Freshman selection Collin Murray-Bowles scored 24 points and the Gamecocks overcame a slow start. The game turned on a 16-0 run that began with six points late in the first half and included 10 points to start the second half.

The victory enabled South Carolina to tie the school’s 2017 Final Four team for most wins in program history. The Gamecocks’ success earned SEC Coach of the Year Lamont Paris a raise and a new six-year contract.

“(The players’) belief and confidence have grown so high that they expect to win whenever we lace them up and go out on the court,” Paris told the SEC Network after the win over the Razorbacks.

The winner of the South Carolina-Auburn game will face the winner of the contest between ninth-seeded Mississippi State and top-seeded Tennessee in the semifinals on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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