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Chris Denson's scoring returns in time for SEC tourney

Chris Denson goes high, mixing it up inside for Auburn (Zach Bland photo)
 Auburn Basketball
 Matchup  Auburn (14-15) vs. South Carolina (12-19) | Game Notes
 Date & Time  Tuesday, March 12, 2014 at 6 P.M. CT
 Location  Georgia Dome | GameDay Info (Parking, Seating Chart, etc.)
 Tickets  Buy Tickets Online | Men's Basketball Ticket Information
 Broadcasts  TV: SEC-TV | Radio: WGZZ 94.3 FM • SIRIUS/XM 108/199
 Online  Webcast | Live Audio | Live Stats | Twitter: @AUbasketball
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Chris Denson returned to being Chris Denson in Auburn's regular-season finale, and now that his scoring slump is done, and now that he's been named the team's most valuable player, he's looking for the Tigers to make a run in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Atlanta. 

"Confidence, confidence, that's one thing we have to go into the tournament," says Denson, who barely missed winning the SEC scoring title despite a bounce-back performance in a win against Texas A&M last Saturday. 

Auburn will open tourney play against South Carolina at 6 p.m., Central time, Wednesday in the Georgia Dome. The Tigers would have to win five games in five days to win the title, but they have a shooter's chance, at least in the beginning. Auburn has already beaten South Carolina twice with Denson averaging 23.5 points in those game. The winner will play Arkansas at approximately 2:30 p.m. Thursday. 

Auburn is 14-15 overall after finishing 6-12 in the SEC. South Carolina is 12-19 overall and finishing 5-13 in the league. 

Auburn is feeling better after beating Texas A&M 69-64 in a game in which Denson scored 19 after scoring an uncharacteristically low 3 points against Alabama and 6 against Tennessee in consecutive games. He finished the season averaging 19.2 points per game, just missing the scoring title won by Missouri's Jabari Brown, who averaged 19.7. 

Denson has been named All-SEC second team twice, so far, and is the first Auburn player to win conference honors since Korvotney Barber five years ago. His 558 points this season is the most since Marquis Daniels scored 625 points since the 2002-03 season. Denson averaged 19.4 points per game in SEC play, the highest average for an Auburn player in the last 25 years. 

His driving to-the-basket style has seen him score a lot of points, and get fouled a lot. His 258 free throw attempts this season is a school record. His 168 points from the line are the fourth most in school history. 

Coach Tony Barbee said he talked to Denson before the A&M game and told him to focus on his complete game, not just scoring. Denson, in retrospect, wishes he had not let the scoring title get to him. 

"It hurt and it hurt my team," Denson said. "I was pressing, trying to get the scoring title, but I was playing free Texas A&M game and I expect to play free the whole SEC Tournament so I'm planning to do well." 

Auburn started the SEC season 0-6. Math tells us the Tigers went 6-6 in the league after that. 

"We don't have anything to lose going into the tournament and we want to prove everybody wrong," Denson said. "We like who the matchup and the seeding, so we're very confident and the energy level is amazing. 

"We're taking what we have now and we can't let the confidence get taken away."

*All times on bracket are Eastern


Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at him on Twitter:



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