On Notice: No. 23 South Carolina tops Auburn 98-69 (Jan 24, 2017)
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) As South Carolina's senior leaders were coming off the court in Saturday night's loss at powerhouse Kentucky, Gamecocks coach Frank Martin gave them a message.
''It's over,'' Martin told them, explaining how the pouting, the sluggish practices and lack of attention after last year's defeat to Kentucky lingered far too long. ''And it cost us at Missouri.''
The leadership core of Duane Notice, Sindarius Thornwell and Justin McKie made sure it didn't Tuesday night, combining for 62 points and 14 3-pointers as the Gamecocks put away Auburn 98-69.
A year ago, South Carolina (16-4, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) followed up its defeat to the Wildcats with a surprising 72-67 loss at struggling Missouri. This time, Notice led the way by tying career highs of 27 points and six 3-pointers, Thornwell had 22 points and five 3-pointers and McKie had 13 points and three 3-pointers.
''We won't allow this team to lose any of the games we're not supposed to,'' Thornwell said.
Notice had scored 22 points combined in his previous four games, but like most of his Gamecock teammates let it fly from long range early and often to open a big first-half lead over the Tigers (13-7, 3-5).
Notice and Thornwell had four 3-pointers in the first half while McKie hit two as the Gamecocks led 48-27 at the half.
''They took us out of everything we like to do and that made offense extremely difficult,'' Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
South Carolina packed things in and slowed down its attack for much of the second half. Notice, though, would not be contained, canning two more 3s as the Gamecocks hit a season-high 15 from behind the arc. That was one shy of the team's game record of 16, accomplished against Campbell in 2007.
Notice tied his career high in points last set in a win over Florida International last month, a game where he hit six 3-pointers.
Anfernee McLemore had a career-best 18 points to lead Auburn while freshman center Austin Wiley had 10 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double.
THE BIG PICTURE
Auburn: If the Tigers had hopes of hanging with South Carolina, they ended early when they were down 9-0 in the first 2 minutes. Auburn had its chances to stay close, but the 6-foot-11 Wiley missed three of his first four free throws, giving away points instead of making the Gamecocks pay. Auburn could not take advantage when two South Carolina starters, blocks leader Chris Silva and point guard PJ Dozier both spent much of the half on the bench with two fouls apiece.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks would welcome this kind of outside shooting every game. Behind four 3s each from senior starters Thornwell and Notice, South Carolina made 10 of its 16 attempts from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes to open a 20-point lead. The Gamecocks make about six 3s a game and had just five against Kentucky.
Martin's defensive philosophy is simple: Stop the opponent from passing. So far, so good. The Gamecocks lead the SEC in points per game allowed at 60.7 and field goal shooting defense.
''Teams play us and they can't run their offense,'' Martin said. ''It's probably really hard'' to face the Gamecocks.
It was not the crispest shooting performance at the free throw line for either team. The Tigers shot 61.5 percent (24 of 39) while the Gamecocks were under 70 percent, too, going 23 of 33.
Auburn plays at TCU on Saturday night in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
South Carolina travels to Missouri on Saturday night in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
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