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KT Harrell delivers as Auburn tops South Carolina
Jan. 17, 2015
Bruce Pearl
(10-7, 2-2 SEC)
 Jan. 17, 2015
 South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina
(10-6, 1-3 SEC)

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Coach Bruce Pearl knew just what to do with KT Harrell with the game on the line.
He let Auburn's leading shooter shoot.

"Late in the game, it doesn't take a great coach to figure out you've got to get the ball in his hands," Pearl said after Auburn beat South Carolina 71-68, and after Harrell scored a game-high 24 points, including 16 in the final eight minutes of the game.

It was Harrell  and a roaring sellout crowd in Auburn Arena  that helped the Tigers come back in the first half and again in the second half. 
Harrell's 4-point play  hitting a tough 3-pointer and hitting a free throw to complete the play  got Auburn going in a game of wild mood swings, and again brought the sellout crowd of 9,121 in the game in Auburn Arena.
"To be totally honest, I didn't think it was going in," Harrell said. 

"Once it went in, it changed the whole momentum," said fellow guard Antoine Mason.

Auburn had to overcome a few cold snaps, like starting the game missing nine of its first 11 shots, and watching South Carolina erase a 10-point Auburn lead in fairly quick order to start the second half.

Pearl said the comeback "doesn't happen without a sellout crowd."

The crowd impressed South Carolina coach Frank Martin as well.

"Give Bruce Pearl credit," Martin said. "They've promoted the sport. That's what we're trying to do at South Carolina. There's reason they win today. We got rattled coming down the stretch.

"Much credit to everyone involved." 

South Carolina fell to 10-6 overall and 1-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn improved to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in the league -- and 9-1 at home.

"Bruce has a charisma, a confidence about him and you see it in his team," Martin said. "They found real good players that fit in his program that helped them win right away."

Cinmeon Bowers recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Antoine Mason scored 14.

Harrell hit a 3-pointer that gave Auburn a 50-47 left with nine minutes left. A few minutes later, South Carolina was on a 9-0 run until Harrell hit that decisive 3-pointer, and added a free throw to close out the play, to give the Tigers a 58-56 lead. A Bowers' power play after a miss made it 61-58 Auburn with 3:42 remaining.

Harrell made a pair of free throws to make it 63-58 with 2:34 left. It was a game of give-and-take from there.

Auburn will be looking for more home-court advantage when it plays Mississippi State at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Auburn Arena.

As for Saturday, "That's about as loud as it's been since I've been here," Harrell said. "It makes you feel like you can't lose."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:




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