No. 12 Auburn routs No. 15 South Carolina to advance in SEC Tournament

NASHVILLE – It wasn’t Neville Arena, but it sure felt like it inside Bridgestone Arena on Friday as No. 12 Auburn cruised to an 86-55 victory over No. 15 South Carolina in front of a strong contingent of Auburn fans in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. 

The 31-point victory was Auburn’s fifth win by at least 30 points this season and one point shy of the program’s largest SEC Tournament win all-time. 

One of those 30-point victories came against this same South Carolina team back in February. The Tigers reached 100 points in that matchup, winning 101-61. In Friday’s rematch, it was the defense that stepped up and made the biggest impact as Auburn held the Gamecocks to just 55 points on 28 percent shooting from the field (16-of-57) while outscoring them 42-22 in points in the paint.

“In yesterday’s (SEC Tournament) game, they scored 50 points in the paint. We knew we can’t win like that,” Auburn big man Johni Broome said. “Our front line takes pride in our defense. As you can see, on the defensive side, we held our own and stood our ground.”

“We’re built a little differently,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “I think Dylan (Cardwell) and Johni, Chaney (Johnson) and J-Will (Jaylin Williams) are all older and they’re all bigger, and they’re willing to be physical.”

Broome set the tone offensively and defensively for the Tigers. The First Team All-SEC selection finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. It was his 23rd straight game in double figures and his 12th double-double of the season – tops in the conference. 

Midway through the second half, Broome showed his range by knocking down a pair of 3-pointers during a 13-4 Auburn run that pushed the lead to 32. 

“Coach (Pearl) always tells us now is the time to go on a run, make shots,” Broome said. “That’s how you advance in the tournament, in the NCAA tournament, how you win games. I think everybody has been taking pride in what he said because we went through a little shooting slump mid-season. I just credit all my teammates for being in the gym. 

“Like Chaney (Johnson) said, stepping up to the moment when the moment’s getting big.”

Johnson stepped up Friday too with 11 points off the bench. Five of those 11 points came late in the first half when South Carolina cut the lead to 10, and Johnson responded with five straight to ignite an 11-0 run and give the Tigers a 46-26 edge at the break. 

It was just the third double-figure scoring game of the season for the UAH transfer who added three rebounds, three assists and two blocks in what was his first SEC Tournament game. 

Broome, Johnson and K.D. Johnson (10 points) were the only Auburn players to score in double figures against South Carolina, but 11 different players scored in the game. 

“If you told me we’d have 10 guys score and that Jaylin Williams would only have three, I may be a little concerned,” Pearl joked after the game. 

“Again, there would be a lot of guys that were Second Team All-Conference and a fifth-year senior that only got two shots, and they’d be all upset in that locker room. You would never know it from Jaylin Williams. He’s excited about winning. He doesn’t care. He was happy that Chaney Johnson came in there and did what Chaney did.”

Newcomers Johnson (11), Aden Holloway (9), Chad Baker-Mazara (8) and Denver Jones (7) combined to score 35 points in their SEC Tournament debuts. Tre Donaldson led the Tigers with four assists while Dylan Cardwell blocked a team-high four shots. 

“The deeper we can go in a tournament, the more advantage it is for us because of our depth,” Pearl said. “The effort, energy, the unselfishness it requires to play that hard.”

With the win, Auburn advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the 14th time in program history and the third time under Pearl (2015, 2019, 2024). The Tigers will play Mississippi State in the first semifinal Saturday with tipoff set for noon CT. 


» Auburn won its 25th game of the season with its 86-55 victory over South Carolina in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. With the win, the Tigers advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the 14th time in program history and the third time under head coach Bruce Pearl (2015 and 2019).

» AU’s 25 wins are tied for fifth-most in program history. This season is the fifth time in the last seven seasons Auburn has won at least 25 games. The Tigers won their fourth straight game after winning their last three games in the regular season, making this the second time this season they have won at least four straight games over SEC opponents after winning their first five games to open SEC play.

» With the win, Auburn now leads 32-19 in the all-time series against South Carolina. The Tigers have now won eight straight games over the Gamecocks, the last seven of those by double digits, including a 101-61 victory over then No. 11 South Carolina on Feb. 14 at Neville Arena – AU’s largest margin of victory all-time over a ranked opponent. The Tigers are now 4-1 in SEC Tournament games versus the Gamecocks.

» Head Coach Bruce Pearl is 22-6 against South Carolina including 10-4 at Auburn. He is 3-1 against the Gamecocks in games played at neutral sites including a 73-64 victory in the 2019 SEC Tournament quarterfinals as the Tigers won their first SEC Tournament title since 1985 (second in program history). 

» Pearl is 3-0 against second-year Gamecocks head coach Lamont Paris with Auburn’s 81-66 at South Carolina last season and the Tigers’ 101-61 victory over the Gamecocks this season.

» Auburn improves to 31-40 (.437) in the SEC Tournament since its renewal in 1979. Overall, the Tigers are now 35-57 (.380) in the tournament. 

» Auburn is now 8-6 in eight SEC Tournament appearances under Coach Pearl.

» The Tigers’ 86-55 win over South Carolina is the team’s fifth win by at least 30 points this season and a team SEC-best 14th win by 20-plus points. The 31-point win was one point shy of Auburn’s largest SEC Tournament win of all-time (93-61 over Alabama in 1999). The Tigers have won their two games against South Carolina this season by an average margin of 35.5 points, after beating the Gamecocks, 101-61 (+40) on Feb. 14 at Neville Arena.

» Auburn led South Carolina, 46-26, at halftime. It was the sixth time this season the Tigers have led by at least 20 points at the half including both games against the Gamecocks after holding a 50-28 halftime lead against them in both teams’ regular-season matchup. The Tigers are 24-1 when leading at halftime this season. They have won 24 straight games when leading at half after a season-opening loss to Baylor.

» Auburn has topped the 80-point mark in both games against South Carolina this season averaging 93.5 points per game against the Gamecocks. It was the only two times South Carolina has allowed 80 points in regulation this season.

» Auburn is 32-64 (.333) all-time when playing in the city of Nashville including 2-0 this season after winning 80-65 at Vanderbilt on Jan. 17. The Tigers are 11-10 in SEC Tournament games in the Music City (19-52 at Vanderbilt, 1-0 vs. Dartmouth, 1-0 vs. Saint Louis, 0-1 vs. Middle Tennessee and 0-1 vs. Western Kentucky in Nashville).

» Coach Pearl is 17-7 in his coaching career at Bridgestone Arena including 8-5 at Auburn. Pearl is 10-6 at the location in the SEC Tournament and 8-4 at Auburn.

» Auburn is 15-16 in 17 SEC Tournament appearances in the state of Tennessee. The Tigers are 2-4 in four SEC Tournament appearances in Knoxville, 2-2 in two SEC Tournament appearances in Memphis and 11-10 in 11 SEC Tournament appearances in Nashville.

» Auburn committed just five turnovers in its win over South Carolina. It was the 12th time this season the Tigers have committed single-digit turnovers including the sixth time against an SEC opponent. Auburn averaged just 6.0 turnovers in two wins over South Carolina this season.

» It was also the third time the Tigers have committed no more than five turnovers in a game this season (tied school record with 3 turnovers vs. Indiana and had 5 turnovers vs. Alabama).

» Auburn scored 41 bench points, which was the ninth time this season the Tigers have scored at least 40 bench points and the fourth time against an SEC opponent. AU outscored South Carolina, 80-17, in bench points in two games this season. Eleven players scored for Auburn in Friday’s quarterfinal win.

» Auburn placed three players in double figures in its win over South Carolina led by Johni Broome’s 18 points and 10 rebounds. It was his SEC-leading 12th double-double of the season and the 58th of his career. It was Broome’s 23rd straight game in double figures, a span in which he’s averaging 16.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and shooting 53.8 percent from the floor.

» Chaney Johnson came off the bench and scored 11 points on 4-of-8 from the field against the Gamecocks. He also added three rebounds, three assists and two blocks. It was Johnson’s third double-figure scoring game of the season, the 70th of his career, and the second in SEC play this season (16 points at Georgia).

» K.D. Johnson chipped in 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor and 2-of-3 from long range and matched his season high with five rebounds. It was Johnson’s ninth game in double figures this season and the 60th of his career.


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