By Charles Goldberg
Columbia, S.C. -- Chris Denson and KT Harrell combined for 50 points Wednesday night, but Auburn coach Tony Barbee said it would be best to look beyond the box score to find all who helped the Tigers to their third straight SEC win, a 79-74 victory at South Carolina.
He credited some big plays, or at least quality minutes, from Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, Allen Payne, Tahj Shamsid-Deen, Alex Thompson and Jordon Granger to help Auburn to its first road win of the year.
The team effort helped Auburn to continue to enjoy its reversal of fortune. The Tigers' three straight league wins followed an 0-6 conference start. Auburn improved to 11-9 overall to go along with its 3-6 SEC record. The Gamecocks fell to 8-14 overall and 1-8 in the league.
Barbee was willing to spread his compliments, but it was Denson and Harrell who, as usual, led the way. They each scored 25 and as Denson became the 34th player in Auburn history with 1,000 career points.
The Tigers opened the second half on a hot streak, stretching a modest halftime advantage to a 16-point lead with 13:20 remaining. But, even faster, South Carolina caught the Tigers.
"We kind of let our guard down," Barbee said.
Finally, Auburn slowed the Gamecocks to hang on for the win.
Denson said Auburn was ready for the challenge in the closing minutes.
"Everybody was confident. I think last year, we would have folded. Everybody was poised," Denson said.
Barbee said almost everybody helped.
He said Dixon-Tatum "had moments late in the game that helped us overcome.
"Allen Payne did the same thing. He came up late when we needed to come up with some big rebounds. And how about Tahj? They put a lot of pressure on you, and it didn't bother him at all."
Barbee said Alex Thompson helped Auburn build its big second-half lead. "It was Alex who was in the game." And of Jordon Granger, "How about the first half he had?"
Denson and Harrell did leave many points for their teammates, but Shamsid-Deen scored 12 and Payne had 9 points and 9 rebounds. Auburn hit a snappy 52.7 percent of its shots. Brenton Williams had 29 points for South Carolina.
Auburn will go for its fourth straight win at LSU on Saturday afternoon.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine