AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Devan Cambridge scored 26 points, J’Von McCormick added 13 and No. 16 Auburn beat South Carolina 80-67 Wednesday night to stop a two-game skid.
The Tigers started off sluggish but ran away with it down the stretch due in large part to hot shooting off the bench.
Auburn (16-2, 4-2 SEC) had to lean on its role players after the starters went a combined 1 of 10 from the field out of the gate.
Auburn shot 46%, including 14 of 27 in the second half, and outscored South Carolina 38-16 in bench points. The Tigers also shot 86% from the free-throw line, finishing 18 of 21. Three Tigers finished in double figures with Samir Doughty adding 11.
South Carolina (10-8, 2-3) played without starting forward and solid defender Keyshawn Bryant on the front line who was out with a head injury, but were only outrebounded by four.
Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin said after the game that his team had Cambridge on its radar in recent days.
“Give that young man credit,” Martin said. “He was on our scouting report and he was identified as a capable three point shooter, that’s the wording we used, and he put them down and because of that they got away from us.”
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The Gamecocks got out to an early lead when the Tigers came out cold from the field but quickly saw their lead vanish after a barrage of 3-pointers from Cambridge and Jamal Johnson just before halftime.
After a 7-0 run cut the Auburn lead to single digits out of the intermission, the Tigers used a 19-4 run to stretch their lead to 77-57 and put the Gamecocks all but away before the 7:00 mark. Auburn finished the game 10 of 27 from 3, and scored 16 points off of 12 South Carolina turnovers.
“We couldn’t keep them in front (of us on defense),” Martin said. “We tried going zone a couple of times and we were even worse in zone.”
Jermaine Cousinard led the Gamecocks with 16 points and Justin Minaya added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Gamecocks. A.J. Lawson had 11 points and four rebounds, and Maik Kotsar had six points and team-highs of eight rebounds and five assists.
South Carolina: After winning two in a row in conference play, including a buzzer-beating victory over Kentucky, the Gamecocks fall back below .500 in the SEC. South Carolina actually scored the final seven points, after Auburn had the win in hand, adding to the streaky nature of the game. … Wildens Leveque got the start in place of Bryant. Leveque was effective early with a basket, a block, a rebound, and charge drawn in the first three minutes. He finished with four points, three rebounds, three steals and a block in 13 minutes. … Jair Bolden had 10 points off the bench. … Over the last two games, South Carolina is 10-17 from the foul line, while opponents are 46-62. … Each team had 12 turnovers, but Auburn had 16 points off while South Carolina only had nine. Most of South Carolina’s turnovers came early, when it was leading the game.
Auburn: The Tigers were blown out in back-to-back road games by a combined margin of 40 points at Alabama and Florida, shooting 11 of 51 from beyond the arc. Auburn dropped 12 spots in the latest AP poll, but made 10 3-pointers to defeat South Carolina and stop a two-game losing streak. Attendance was 8,430
South Carolina: Hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
Auburn: Hosts Iowa State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge at noon on Saturday.