South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks can't solve the Auburn problem again, now look ahead to NCAA Tournament

South Carolina basketball was blown out by the Auburn Tigers (again), ending their SEC Tournament run.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris had a good Thursday. He came to an agreement with the University on a contract extension that comes with a significant pay raise, and his Gamecock squad picked up an SEC Tournament win over Arkansas a few hours later.

The good vibes spread into Friday morning, as well. Paris' contract was officially approved by the school's Board of Trustees, and he was named a semifinalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award. Picking up another win in the SEC Tournament Friday afternoon was next up on the agenda.

Standing in Carolina's way was the Auburn Tigers. Auburn had blown out the Gamecocks in Neville Arena earlier in the season, so the Gamecocks were looking to recover a little respect to go with their revenge.

The opening tip went to the Gamecocks, but Auburn's Johni Broome scored first. Ta'Lon Cooper answered with a 3-pointer, and Collin Murray-Boyles got a finger-roll to fall to put Carolina up 5-2. Chad Baker-Mazara got loose on a simple cut through the lane. His dunk cut the lead to 1, but the next time Auburn had the ball, Murray-Boyles won the CMB vs. CBM matchup when he swatted the Auburn wing's shot.

The Gamecocks needed 4 offensive rebounds to get some points on the ensuing possession, but Zach Davis went just 1-2 from the free throw line. Auburn went ahead 7-6 after a Johni Broome trip to the free throw line, but big Josh Gray fought off contact from two Tiger post defenders for a big dunk to put his team ahead again.

Ebrima Dibba, playing for an injured Myles Stute, didn't get his hand up against Jaylin Williams, and Williams made Dibba pay. Then, Dibba dropped a would-be steal, allowing possession to stick with Auburn. After the two teams traded trips to the free throw line, Auburn led by 1, but that quickly grew to 3 when Johni Broome got an easy dunk.

Broome went after BJ Mack again on the next possession, picking up another easy bucket in the lane. Chad Baker-Mazara got a shot in the lane to go after Mack gave up an offensive board to Broome. After Carolina couldn't inbound the ball successfully, Denver Jones hit a 3-pointer, and Auburn was ahead 22-14. Jones got another bucket (plus Collin Murray-Boyles' 2nd foul) to push the lead to 10.

Auburn's run grew all the way to 13-0 as South Carolina basketball did not score a point for nearly 5 minutes. Collin Murray-Boyles finally got Carolina back on the scoreboard with a 1-2 trip to the charity stripe after a hard foul by Dylan Cardwell.

The Gamecocks took several shots that weren't very Gamecock-like (quick 3-pointers, contested midrange, etc.), so even though Auburn's offense slowed down, Carolina was unable to make up much ground. When Jacobi Wright hit one of those tough shots, USC trailed 30-18, but a silly flagrant-1 from Zach Davis and a technical foul against KD Johnson gifted both teams two points from the free throw line.

Auburn's league pushed back to 14 with a Chad Baker-Mazara make in the lane. A few possessions later, a Ta'Lon Cooper 3-pointer made the score 35-25, but Chaney Johnson scored 5 straight to go back up by 15. BJ Mack got away with two elbows on the offensive end, but when he tried to use his elbow again, he was called for an offensive foul. After two more Carolina turnovers, the lead grew to 21.

To end the Tigers' second 11-point run, the Gamecocks got 1 point when Ta'Lon Cooper went to the free throw line, but that was all they could muster to end a pathetic 1st half. As the buzzer sounded, the score stood 46-26.

The two teams combined to shoot 0-7 at the start of the 2nd half, so a BJ Mack jumper made the score 46-29 nearly 2 1/2 minutes into the half. Auburn went on to miss their first 7 shots, but Carolina was unable to cut into the lead much as they scored just 3 points in the first 4 1/2 minutes. The prospects of coming back got even slimmer as Ta'Lon Cooper left the game with an ankle injury.

Meechie Johnson hit his first shot to make the score 48-32, but Auburn went on a lightning-quick 9-1 run to go up by 24. Ugly basketball continued for both teams, but Carolina's ugly was worse. The Gamecocks went over 7 minutes without a bucket for the second time on the day. By the time BJ Mack scored, Auburn led 69-40.

The unnecessary dagger into the Gamecocks' already-dead hopes of winning came when Johni Broome hit 2 3-pointers in a short stretch. After the second fell, Auburn led by 30 with just 6:26 to go in the game.

The game was a glorified exhibition the rest of the way as effort was lacking on both sides (though, Auburn played their starters more than one would expect). The lead got as big as 32, and it finished at 31. The Gamecocks will wait to learn their NCAA Tournament seeding on Selection Sunday.

55. 533. South Carolina Basketball vs. Auburn Tigers. 86. 525. Final