March 12, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
ATLANTA, Ga. — Auburn's season of frustration came to a quiet end on the basketball court Wednesday night when South Carolina pelted the Tigers with 11 3-pointers in a 74-56 victory in the first game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Auburn's season ended with a 14-16 overall record after finishing 6-12 in the SEC's regular season. South Carolina improved to 13-19 and advanced to a Thursday afternoon tournament game against Arkansas.
"Tough end to the conference tournament having beaten that team twice this year," said Auburn coach Tony Barbee. "It's hard to overcome the shooting effort we had.
"Overall," he added, "I'm proud of the fight the guys showed at the end. But a disappointing end."
After the game, Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs dismissed Barbee after meeting with him at the team hotel. That story is here.
The hopes of being South Carolina a third time melted away as the first half played out.
"The biggest diference was the 3-point line from the previous two games," said coach Tony Barbee.
South Carolina was hot early, making seven 3-pointers, going 7-for-8 from the free throw line and leading 38-26 at the half. The Gamecocks also had a 20-11 rebounding advantage.
The Tigers' offense was off in the first half. Chris Denson, who almost won the SEC scoring title, attempted only two shots, making one. Denson finished with 14. He averaged 23.5 points in the first two meeetings.
"They definitely clogged the paint more in this game. They took my driving lanes away," Denson said. "They made us shoot from the outside."
Tahj Shamsid-Deen was 0-for-4 from the field in the first half, 1-for-10 for the game and finished with four points. KT Harrell's three first-half 3-pointers were the bright spot.
But South Carolina made sure there would be no comeback by scoring the first six points of the second half with two more 3-pointers. The Gamecocks led by 20 with 5:24 remaining.
Denson moved into eighth place on Auburn's all-time scoring list, passing Charles Barkley, who was sitting behind the Tigers' bench. Harrell scored 13.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine