Gamecock turnovers, inability to score fuse for first SEC loss vs. No. 9 Auburn
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina took on the No. 9 Auburn Tigers at Colonial Life Arena for their first match of the new year.
The Gamecocks (9-3) stepped into their first Southeastern Conference match of the season against a tough rival. The Tigers (12-1) have already taken down a top 25 opponent in LSU.
Head coach Frank Martin welcomed a healthy roster for what seems to be the first time all year. Everyone returned from injury and COVID protocols.
The Gamecocks trailed by as many as 21 in the game, eventually losing with a final of 81-66.
In a fast-paced first half, both teams jumped out to a quick start, especially the Gamecocks.
Beginning with a 6-1 lead with 15:33 in the game, guard Erik Stevenson hit his first three-pointer and Jacobi Wright followed up knocking down a mid-range jumper.
However, in a three-point answer by Auburn and a few Leveque turnovers, the Tigers began to claw back.
Auburn went on runs of 7-0 and 6-0 and the Gamecocks were really sticking around because of some Stevenson deep hauls. They trailed 17-10 midway through the first half.
Stevenson continued to cash in big, and back-to-back Gamecocks threes cut the lead to 9 at one point. By halftime, however, the Gamecocks found themselves behind again at 44-29.
South Carolina came out of halftime with energy and a few early stops -- but misses on the offensive end kept the Gamecocks from cutting into the lead.
The Gamecocks tried to go on a final run but had a hard time getting over the hump.
The deficit was cut to eight points but turnovers and the inability to score late in the game cost them everything.
South Carolina falls to 9-4 and 0-1 in conference play.
They will look to rebound against SEC foe Vanderbilt in Nashville at noon Saturday on ESPNU.
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