Tigers get tough, whip Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. - In a bruising game that saw more than two dozen lead changes, Auburn blistered South Carolina's defense with 58.5 percent shooting and defeated South Carolina 74-71 at Colonial Life Arena on Saturday.

Frankie Sullivan scored 17 points in Auburn's victory/Ryan Bethea photograph

The Tigers, 8-7 overall, moved to 2-0 in league play for the first time in 10 years. South Carolina fell to 10-5 and 0-2.

“I’m so proud of our guys,” third-year Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “We are still getting closer. We are still not a finished product, but we are getting closer in what is important and what is our identity. That is our grittiness and our toughness, and that shows up when adversity hits. We weren’t so tough early in the season.

“It was a physical game, and you know that when you play against a Frank Martin-coached team. We got into some foul trouble adversity right there, and we had some guys step up."

Center Rob Chubb had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Frankie Sullivan had 17 points and five assists. True freshman Brian Greene Jr. scored a career-high 14 points, going 6-for-6 from the field.

The Tigers were outrebounded 31-24 and gave up 17 offensive rebounds, but they were 24-of-41 from the field and 8-of-18 from 3-point range. They put the game in jeopardy at the free throw line, making 18-of-28. South Carolina was 26-of-57 from the field for 45.6 percent and 11-of-16 at the free throw line.

With Auburn trailing 39-38 at halftime, Sullivan hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Auburn a 46-42 lead. He then made two free throws for an 8-0 run of his own. South Carolina countered with a7-2 run.

Greene’s 3-pointer pulled Auburn ahead again 62-61 with 6:44 to go, and his 3-pointer from 26 feet gave the Tigers a 67-65 lead with five minutes remaining. Two Sullivan free throws put the Tigers ahead to stay at 73-71 with 2:41 to go. Chubb grabbed a huge offensive rebound and split foul shots for a 74-71 lead with 35 seconds.

Bruce Ellington's highly contested 3-point shot didn't draw iron in the final seconds and Auburn ran out the clock before South Carolina could foul.

Auburn won its third straight game without injured Chris Denson and Jordan Price.

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