Gamecocks drop SEC home opener to Auburn

Junior guard Bruce Ellington scored a season-high 18 points for South Carolina, but it wasn’t enough for the Gamecocks as they fell 74-71 in a back-and-forth SEC matchup with Auburn on Saturday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena.

Ellington tied the game at 71-71 by sinking a jumper with 3:10 left in the game, but Auburn held the Gamecocks scoreless the rest of the way and made 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to secure the win in a contest that saw 27 lead changes and 13 ties.

With the loss, South Carolina falls to 10-5 overall and 0-2 in SEC play. The Tigers improve to 8-7 on the season and 2-0 in the conference.

The Gamecocks had four players reach double figures led by Ellington, who also dished out five assists and recorded two steals. Sophomore Damien Leonard tossed in 17 points, including tying a career high with five 3-pointers. He also pulled down a career-high nine rebounds. Senior Lakeem Jackson and junior Eric Smith chipped in 10 points apiece for South Carolina. Freshman Michael Carrera filled the stat sheet with six points, seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

As a team, the Gamecocks scored at a 45.6 percent clip (26-of-57) and made 8-of-20 attempts from 3-point range. Carolina also won the battle of the boards with a 31-24 advantage, including 17 offensive rebounds that led to 20 second-chance points.

Senior guard Frankie Sullivan paced Auburn with 17 points. Senior Rob Chubb recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman Brian Greene added 14 points for the Tigers, who shot 58.5 percent (24-of-41) from the floor and 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from deep.

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