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South Carolina basketball explodes by Auburn in 2024 SEC Tournament

NASHVILLE― Caroline from the south Basketball coach Lamont Paris shook his head in exasperation at the end of the first half, as another Auburn jump shot found the back of the net.

He had seen the Tigers attack his Game roosters like this before. And like last time, it quickly became clear that the result would be ugly.

Auburn knocked South Carolina out of the 2024 SEC Tournament quarterfinals 86-55 Friday at Bridgestone Arena. It was the second time since early February that the Gamecocks (26-7) were beaten by the Tigers, 101-61 winners at Auburn (25-7) in the regular season.

The lopsided loss represents a real missed opportunity for the Gamecocks.

Mississippi State blew the SEC tournament championship door wide open for South Carolina by upsetting top-seeded Tennessee before the Gamecocks took the field.

After 20 minutes, Auburn had closed it.

In his press conference after Thursday's win over Arkansas, Paris said it would be “very bad karma” for the Tigers to repeat their prolific shooting from the first meeting between the two teams.

The Tigers didn't quite reach those heights, but they were close, shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from deep.

Auburn put up 46 points in the first half against South Carolina, making 17 of 35 field goal attempts.

That sent the Gamecocks into the locker room with a score of 20. In the second half, the Tigers moved the show to the other end of the field, where they stifled South Carolina and erased any potential for a remarkable comeback.

The Gamecocks finished shooting 28.1% from the field, comfortably their worst effort of the season.

BJ Mack led South Carolina with 14 points, but he did so while shooting an inefficient 3-of-12 from the field.

South Carolina can't handle Auburn's inside game

Auburn's dominance was largely built in the painted area, where it outscored the Paris team by 20.

PARIS: Unpacking Lamont Paris' contract extension — and how South Carolina's Dawn Staley reacted to it

The catalyst for South Carolina's demise near the rim was first-team All-SEC forward Johni Broome.

The Auburn star finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, even coming out to sink a pair of 3-pointers.

He was also partly responsible for a mediocre afternoon from South Carolina freshman phenom Collin Murray-Boyles. With Broome – a member of the SEC All-Defensive Team – guarding him, Murray-Boyles failed to score in double figures for only the second time since early February.

What's next for South Carolina basketball

The Gamecocks will now wait for their destination and their March Madness game.

Their first appearance in an NCAA tournament since the 2017 Final Four will be made official during the Selection Show Sunday (6 p.m. ET, CBS). Prior to Friday's action, ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi had South Carolina listed as a No. 5 seed.

David Eckert takes over Ole Miss for the Clarion Ledger. Email him at deckert@gannett.com or contact him on Twitter @davideckert98.

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