Daniels, a six-foot-six swingman, scored 31 points as the Tigers became the first visiting team to win in the new Carolina Center. Auburn also won its first back-to-back SEC road games since its SEC championship season of 1998-99
Daniels hit 9-17 field goals as a variety of Gamecocks tried to keep him in check. He was 3-5 from three-point range and hit 10-11 on free throws. He added seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
"We tried smaller players on him early in the game and he shot over them," said USC assistant coach Rick Duckett. "Then we put (Rolando) Howell on him in the second half and his quickness caused us problems." Howell led home team with 15 points and 11 rebounds. "Daniels is a great player," Duckett added.
Auburn got 12 points off the bench from guard Nathan Watson and nine from forward Marco Killingsworth, who added five rebounds. Kyle Davis added seven rebounds for Auburn and Brandon Robinson came off the bench to contribute eight points and five rebounds.
Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said Auburn's foul shooting (18-24) was a key to the win, particularly down the stretch. Ellis also liked the work on the backboards as the Tigers outrebounded the Gamecocks 38-27.
"It was a hard fought win," Ellis said. "I thought this was a very good college basketball game. Marquis (Daniels) got us off to a good start. I was proud of our free throw shooting. We were strong on the boards and I thought we played very good defense. Overall, it was a solid team effort.
"I'm proud of our team to be able to come in here and win," Ellis said. "Our rebounding was strong and the foul shots we made were huge. In every game we played, in the last few minutes we have been able to get the foul shots down. Our team has good leadership. Our players don't get hung up. Poise is a major sign of maturity."
Daniels started out hot and finished that way. He hit two early three-pointers to put the Tigers on top 6-0. The home team rallied to catch the Tigers and pull ahead 17-13 and built the first half lead to 26-20 on a basket by Howell.
The Tigers regained the lead at 27-26 on an inside basket by Killingsworth and took a 34-29 lead at the half as Daniels converted two of three free throws with two seconds in the period. Auburn managed to stay out of foul trouble throughout the game and USC did not shoot a foul shot until the second half when the Gamecocks made 8-14.
Auburn built the lead to nine points on an inside basket by Robinson putting the Tigers on top 41-32. However, the Gamecocks were far from dead and made a strong rally. Three straight baskets by Howell helped cut the margin to 43-40. An inside basket by center Tony Kitchings narrowed the gap to 45-43, but the home team never caught Auburn in the second half.
The Tigers led by eight on a Daniels basket at the 7:02 mark. Auburn survived some good shooting down the stretch from 6-2 guard Michael Boynton, who made three late treys on his way to 12 points for the game. His final one pulled USC to within three at 62-59, but Daniels responded with a basket and the Auburn defense allowed the home team only one point in the final two minutes as the Tigers pulled away for a 67-60 victory.
The Tigers return to action with a 3 p.m. Saturday home game vs. Alabama at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum vs. Alabama. The game is sold out except for student tickets.
South Carolina fell to 1-2 in the league and 7-6 overall. USC head coach Dave Odom said, "They have an excellent team as advertised. Marquis Daniels is a marquee player. He sets the tone for their team. We tried just about everyone on him except me.
"The story on our side was missed assignments, both on defense and offense," Odom added. "This time of year, there is no excuse for missed assignments on defense. We did not rebound the ball with the competitive fire that we needed to. The team fought hard and the fans fought hard. Tomorrow's practice we will have to emphasis execution. This team will stay together and at some point this season, we will be a good basketball team."