Saturday’s 81-66 loss by USC to 16th ranked Auburn wasn’t the 40-point-plus beatdowns administered the previous two Saturdays by Tennessee and Texas A&M respectively, and the Gamecocks actually had some good moments against the Tigers, but they fell behind early once again and could not catch up.
The Gamecocks have had four home games in January, all defeats, and never led in any of those games.
Saturday against the Tigers the Gamecocks fell behind 13-5 and trailed at the half 39-22. They were only 8-31 from the floor and committed seven turnovers that Auburn converted into 10 points. At the same time, Auburn shot 57% and suffered just three turnovers.
In the first five minutes of the second half, Auburn pushed the lead to 26 points, but over the next seven minutes the Gamecocks went on a 23-7 run and trailed by just ten points with 8:09 to play. GG Jackson, who scored a career high 30 points, had 14 of them during that run.
That would be as close as the Gamecocks would get in the second half. A 12-2 Auburn response pushed the lead back to 20 points with 4:15 remaining, and it was an easy ride home from there for the Tigers who defeated the Gamecocks for the fifth straight time.
The Gamecocks finished with a 36% shooting night to 50% for the Tigers. The Gamecocks did hit seven three-pointers, four of them by Jackson. But their 14 turnovers turned into 22 Auburn points. The Tigers also owned the paint 46-20 scoring a combined 32 points on dunks and layups. The Tigers also scored 27 points on the break and had 20 assists on their 30 field goals.
Meechie Johnson was the only other Gamecock to score in double figures with 11 points. Johnii Broome, who had scored a total of 10 points in his previous two games, led Auburn with a career high matching 27 points.
The loss dropped the Gamecocks to 8-11 overall and 1-5 in the SEC. They will play Wednesday at Florida and Saturday at Georgia.