Tigers Surprise Gamecocks For First SEC Win

Auburn played solid basketball in all phases of the game in a 79-64 SEC men's basketball win over South Carolina Saturday in Columbia.

Columbia, S.C.--It took almost a full month into his first season but Tony Barbee and Auburn got their first SEC win on Saturday behind career highs from both Rob Chubb and Josh Wallace as the Tigers defeated South Carolina 79-64. With the win Auburn improves to 8-13 overall and 1-6 in Southeastern Conference action. South Carolina falls to 12-7 and 2-4 in conference play.

Struggling with consistency all season long, Auburn turned the ball over just nine times, outrebounded the Gamecocks 47-35, and connected on 26-34 free throws to get the road victory, It would not have been possible without big performances from just about every player on the roster in the win.

Chubb was one of four Auburn players in double figures with a career high 18 points while Wallace added a career high 17 on 5-9 shooting. Earnest Ross and Chris Denson added 10 points each as the Tigers scored their most points since an overtime with over Georgia Southern in December.

"You look down the line here and I've been telling the guys that if you have a chance to contribute, whether it's offense, defense, whatever, you have to contribute," Barbee said. "Top to bottom we did and it started with Rob Chubb. Every game we want to establish our post presence. It started with Rob and his 18 points. Josh Wallace, how about his line. Earnest Ross with 10 points and seven rebounds and five assists and a key one for him, not turnovers. Kenny Gabriel had 13 big rebounds. Top to bottom it was a great effort and much deserved by the guys because they've been working their tails off."

Coming up big as well as Kenny Gabriel. Scoring eight points on just 3-10 shooting, the junior pulled down 13 rebounds to control the glass for the Tigers throughout. Defensively Auburn held South Carolina to just 34.3 percent shooting and the Gamecocks made just 7-33 three-point attempts.

Building a five-point lead in the first half Auburn was looking to get some positive momentum to start the final 20 minutes and Chubb and Wallace delivered. First the big man rammed home a jump hook and a Wallace steal and basket made it 37-28 just like that. From that point forward Auburn held at least a seven-point advantage until a Sam Muldrow basket with 11:40 left made it 51-45 Auburn.

Auburn didn't wilt though even when the lead dwindled down to just five with just over eight minutes left. The Tigers responded with 10 straight points that essentially put this one away. A big part of the run was Denson. Coming off the bench, the freshman had four of his 10 points in a one-minute span to spur the Tigers on.

Now leading by 15 at 67-52 with just over three minutes left following a pair of Chubb free throws, all Auburn had to do was hold on to get the win. Making 14 of their next 16 free throws to ice the win, the Tigers celebrated the victory and first conference win.

It looked like another dreadful start for Barbee's Tigers on Saturday as they were tied early on before a 7-0 run by South Carolina put the Gamecocks in control minutes into the contest. That's when Auburn put together its best stretch run of basketball this season. Using an 8-0 run themselves the Tigers pulled in front with the final two coming on a pair of Allen Payne free throws.

South Carolina pulled back in front moments later on an Ellington three-pointer before Chubb sank a hook shot to make it 21-20 Auburn with just over eight minutes left in the half. Two more free throws, this pair from Earnest Ross, gave Auburn a three-point advantage but it was just the start of things for the Tigers.

Up 25-24 with six minutes left following an Eric Smith basket for South Carolina, Auburn got a jumper from Kenny Gabriel and another from Adrian Forbes to move back in front by five. Chubb would again come up big as his tip-in of a Josh Wallace miss with 2:18 left gave the Tigers a seven point lead. The teams would trade baskets before Sam Muldrow's two free throws with 15.4 seconds left in the half made it 33-28 Auburn. The Tigers failed to get a shot off to end the half as they went to the locker room leading by five.

In the first 20 minutes Auburn was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line in the first half, had just three turnovers, and outrebounded the much taller South Carolina Gamecocks 21-18. The Tigers would keep the pressure on in the second half to pull out the huge conference win and get on the board in league play.

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