Tigers Looking for Home Win vs. Gamecocks

uburn, Ala.--With four teams vying for the number three seed in the division going into the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament that starts March 13th, Auburn will try to move ahead of Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss when the Tigers take on South Carolina on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. with both the Tigers and Gamecocks bringing 4-9 conference records into the contest. South Carolina, in its final season under the direction of retiring coach Dave Odom, is 12-15 overall. Jeff Lebo's Auburn team is 14-12 overall.

After Saturday's contest, the Tigers only have two more regular season games to play with Georgia coming to AU on Wednesday and the Tigers traveling to Arkansas to play the Razorbacks on Saturday, March 8th.

South Carolina has lost five of its last six games including a 62-55 decision to LSU on Wednesday as the Gamecocks made just 34 percent of their shots. That same night the Tigers played solidly in a road test at Mississippi State, but didn't have enough firepower to take the SEC West leaders, who prevailed 88-76 despite a career-high 31 points from Quan Prowell.

"He was terrific offensively," Lebo says of Prowell. "He needs to take shots. He needs to be able to break people down. He can get shots for other people. Even though he took 21 (shots), he still got a lot of good looks for other people."

Other than Prowell's performance, the most impressive aspect of AU's last outing is that the Tigers had a season-low four turnovers.

"Watching the film, we got what we wanted offensively," Lebo says. "I thought we attacked their zone as good as we have attacked anything all year. Besides (DeWayne) Reed and Quan, the other four guys who played were 2-16 from three and had really good looks. All but two of those were pretty high percentage looks at the basket."

The Gamecocks feature two of the top guards in the conference. Devan Downey, a 5-9, 175 sophomore, is averaging 19.2 points and 5.1 assists per game. He is second in the league in scoring. Zam Frederick, a 6-0, 203 junior, is scoring 15.0 points with 3.2 assists per contest. Downey is a transfer from Cincinnati and Frederick transferred to South Carolina from Georgia Tech.

The Gamecocks feature a smallish front line that includes 6-7 Dominique Archie (10.7 points, 5.7 rebounds), 6-5 senior Dwayne Day (5.4 points, 4.0 rebounds) and 6-7 sophomore Evaldas Baniulis (5.3 points, 2.1 rebounds). Off the bench, 6-7 freshman Mike Holmes is scoring 7.0 points per game with 5.2 rebounds.

Auburn leads the series 17-11 and won last year's meeting 80-76 in Columbia, S.C.

Basketball Notes: Baniulis scored 21 points in last year's matchup vs. Auburn...The Tigers and Gamecocks are 5-5 all-time in games played at AU. Auburn is 8-5 in games played in Columbia...The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net South with Dave Neal and Eddie Fogler calling the action. Lebo worked as an assistant coach to Fogler...As a high school star in Carlisle, Pa., Lebo was recruited by Odom, who was an assistant coach at Virginia on Terry Holland's staff. Lebo chose to play for North Carolina...Auburn's game next Saturday at Arkansas has been picked up for TV coverage on ESPN Classic with a 5 p.m. start at Bud Walton Arena...AU sophomore Lucas Hargrove is from Pontiac, S.C., and was an All-State player at Richland Northeast High. Hargrove, who has started the last two games, did not play vs. the Gamecocks last season...The first 500 fans under 14 attending the game on Saturday will receive a free basketball with an AU logo on it. The halftime show features the popular duo called "Quick Change."...The 18-10 AU women's team has an important game on Sunday to close the regular season. AU, 6-7 in the league, is trying to snap a three-game losing streak and position itself for an NCAA Tournament bid. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. vs. a 17-11 Arkansas team that is just 2-11 in the conference including a 73-68 loss to Auburn in Fayetteville.

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