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Game preview: Gamecocks up against a ranked foe in No. 16 Auburn

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South Carolina returns home to a tough test.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina (9-8, 4-1 SEC) vs. No. 16 Auburn (13-4, 2-2)

Start time: 6:30 p.m.

TV: SEC Network

Live stream: watchespn.com

Last game

The Gamecocks, who had been having a lot of fun since the calendar flipped to January, finally ran into a letdown at LSU, 89-67. Aside from the earliest portion of the first half, South Carolina was never really in this one, and couldn’t get key players like Chris Silva (seven points, fouled out) going. A.J. Lawson once again stepped up, leading the Gamecocks with 18 points, and fellow freshman Keyshawn Bryant joined him in double figures with 10. It was a disappointing result since the Gamecocks were putting an undefeated league start on the line, but they’d also played three games in six days, were at the end of a road trip, and just didn’t seem to have much juice.

What to watch for

The sixteenth-ranked Tigers have bagged conference wins over Georgia and Texas A&M, while they’ve suffered losses to Ole Miss and a narrow 82-80 defeat to now-No. 8 Kentucky. Auburn boasts the SEC’s second-best scoring offense, averaging 84.2 points per game, and has three players putting up double-figures: standout guard Bryce Brown (16.9; also hitting 40 percent from 3-point land), point guard Jared Harper (15.2), and Austin Wiley (10.8). Both teams are looking to bounce back, as the Tigers saw a furious rally fall just short of toppling Kentucky, while the Gamecocks are coming off a loss that’s best forgotten. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effort South Carolina can bring tonight after otherwise having such a strong start to 2019.