The South Carolina Gamecocks were once again shut out of the SEC Tournament’s semifinal Saturday, wrapping up their brief visit to Nashville with a 74-63 loss to the fifth-seeded Auburn Tigers on Friday afternoon.
It was payback for the No. 22 Plainsmen, who suffered an 80-77 upset loss to the Gamecocks earlier in the season. Jared Harper was the hero for Auburn in this one, scoring 19 of his 27 points in the second period and making an absolute living at the foul line. While the game was tied at halftime and close throughout, it was ultimately the Tigers’ 3-point shooting and foul-line performance that helped put them over the top.
Chris Silva, who dominated for South Carolina in the first matchup of these teams, turned in another incredible performance with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Tre Campbell and Felipe Haase joined him in double figures with 12 points each, but Hassani Gravett and Keyshawn Bryant had quiet games with just five and six points, respectively.
Injured freshman star A.J. Lawson did return to action for the Gamecocks, but only saw 13 minutes on the court and was held scoreless.
The Gamecocks (16-16, 11-7 SEC) now await their postseason fate, where the NIT could be in play. Their performance in league play certainly justifies a spot — hell, as coach Frank Martin put it, it’d be good enough for an NCAA bid if the out-of-conference hadn’t been so bad. But the NIT field sometimes crowds out marginal Power 5 teams when too many mid-major tournament upsets happen, so we’ll just have to see how things play out on Selection Sunday.