Frank Tolbert shoots a lay-up and draws the foul off South Carolina's Mike Holmes during the second half. (Anthony G. Hall)
March 1, 2008
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Devan Downey had 21 points, six assists and five steals to lead South Carolina to a 69-63 victory over Auburn Saturday, ending the Gamecocks' three-game losing streak.
Dwayne Day and Brandis Raley-Ross each hit a pair of free throws over the final 26 seconds to help South Carolina (13-15, 5-9 Southeastern Conference) win a matchup of teams trying to avoid a last-place finish in their respective divisions.
Mike Holmes, making only his third SEC start of the season, scored a career-high 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting for the Gamecocks. He also had seven rebounds and blocked three shots before fouling out.
Dominique Archie scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half.
South Carolina shot 53 percent from the field while holding Auburn to 27 percent shooting in the second half, including 1-of-11 in 3-pointers.
The Gamecocks, who trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, used a 15-2 run to build a 62-48 lead entering the final five minutes. Holmes hit back-to-back jump shots to cap the spurt.
Then Tolbert converted two straight 3-point plays and South Carolina missed the front end of two consecutive 1-and-1 free throw situations to allow Auburn to pull within 64-61 with 1:13 left.
The Gamecocks made 5-of-6 free throws from there while Auburn's only additional points came on a late Tolbert layup.
South Carolina had dropped its last three games by a collective 15 points, but was the team making the plays at the end this time. The Gamecocks lead Georgia (3-10) in the battle for fifth in the SEC East, while Auburn and Alabama are both 4-10 in the West.
The Gamecocks started a 27-11 run late in the first half to turn a 12-point deficit into a 43-38 lead, capped by consecutive 3-pointers by Archie and Downey.
The Tigers helped matters by missing their first eight shots of the second half and starting 1-of-15.
Downey led a comeback that sent the Gamecocks down 34-31 at halftime. The Tigers had used a 22-5 run to build a 12-point lead. Then, Downey turned back-to-back steals into layups to start the rally.