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No. 14 Auburn defeats South Carolina 79-70 at home to close out the regular season

Tigers take SEC title in dramatic fashion

AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - No. 14 Auburn struggles early but comes from behind to defeat South Carolina 79-70 and take a share of the regular season SEC title.

"I’ve been coaching a long time," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said on winning the SEC title. "I’ve won championships. Coaches can help teams win games, but they don’t win championships."

The Tigers were projected to finish 9th in the conference. Their 25-6 (13-5) record earns Auburn its first SEC title since 1999 and tiger 3rd title in program history.

"The guys wanted to make history. They truly did," said Pearl.

The Tiger struggled offensively in the first half going 8-29 from the floor and 6-22 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes.

South Carolina would get out to a 14 point lead halfway through the first half, the Gamecocks largest lead of the game.

"When they were playing great, we were playing awful," Pearl said.

Auburn’s defense kept the deficit manageable, tallying 12 steals in the first half alone.

"Our guys did a great job at communicating," Pearl said of the Auburn defense. "I thought we rushed so much in the first half."

As the game went on, Auburn got hot, and so did the hand of Bryce Brown.

Brown would hit 3 back-to-back-to-back three-point shots in the final minutes of the first half, bringing South Carolina's lead to one. Brown would end the night going 8-12 from beyond the arc.

"Bryce Brown got back to doing what he does," Pearl said on Brown. "He is such an amazing competitor and wants to win so badly."

On his second-to-last three-point shot of the night, Brown recorded his 1,000th career point at Auburn.

Brown would finish with a game-high 29 points.

"I worked hard this whole week just getting up shots and everything, just finding my shot," Brown said of finding his shot again. "I appreciate my teammates for continuing to look out for me, even though I was having an off game at first until I ended up picking it around.”

On the other side of the floor, Chris Silva once again made an impact underneath for South Carolina finishing with 11 rebounds and 19 points.

However, Auburn's Horace Spencer helped control Silva throughout the game. Spencer would haul in 6 rebounds and would play a role in forcing Silva into fouling out.

"I thought Horace Spencer stepped up huge," Pearl said of Spencer's defense on Silva. "If you don’t step up defensively and Horace doesn’t step up physically, Silva just dominates us."

Chuma Okeke would also hold his own underneath with Spencer. Okeke would lead the Tigers in rebounding with 9 total rebounds, 8 of which were defensive.

"He had a big rebounding night," Pearl said on Okeke. "He stepped up big."

The Tigers will now travel to St. Louis, Missouri for the SEC Basketball Tournament March 7-11. Auburn will make their first appearance Friday, March 9 at noon. 

Auburn will be the No. 1 in the tournament and will face the winner of the Alabama-Texas A&M game. 


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