The South Carolina men's basketball team was looking to end its six-game losing streak when No. 10 Auburn came to town on Saturday, but many thought this would be an easy win for the Tigers.
However, the Gamecocks shocked everyone by beating the SEC-leading Tigers 84-75 due to a monster 21-point lead at the end of the first half.
South Carolina capitalized on its ability to hit threes in the first half, going 5-for-13 from behind the arc while Auburn shot 1-for-11 from behind the arc in the first. In addition, the Gamecocks had 43 total points off the bench, eclipsing their previous high of 32.
The Gamecocks took control early, leading by as much as 26 points, as they stormed out to a 40-14 lead with 4:59 to play in the first half. Auburn fought back, but South Carolina still had a dominating 46-25 lead at the half.
Auburn wouldn't go away that easily, as they started the second half on a 13-7 run to cut the Gamecocks lead to 13 points with 14:29 to play. The Tigers would eventually cut the deficit to five with 6:58 to play. Guard Frank Booker credits Auburn's comeback to their ability to grab offensive rebounds.
"We were giving up way too many offensive rebounds and that's the reason they got back in the game," Booker said.
Head coach Frank Martin agreed by saying that was the biggest difference between the two halves.
"We couldn't get a rebound," Martin said. "That gave [Auburn] extra possessions, that put them on the foul line. They're too good of an offensive team, when they miss, to not get a defensive rebound."
Auburn finished with 19 offensive rebounds compared to South Carolina's 14, and the Tigers out-rebounded the Gamecocks 44-38 for the game. South Carolina's Chris Silva led the way with 11 rebounds, his seventh time recording double digit rebounds this season. He also finished with 14 points, giving him his sixth double-double of the year.
Booker led the way with 19 points off the bench, going 4-for-9 from behind the arc. Guard Wesley Myers also contributed greatly with 13 points before he fouled out.
Going forward, the Gamecocks know that this win can be a huge turning point for the remainder of the season, but they can't revert back to how they played during the losing streak.
"We're going to take this, we're going to watch film to see the differences between those six games that we lost and the game that we just won," Booker said.
The Gamecocks host SEC rival Georgia on Wednesday, hoping to build on this momentum as they enter the final stretch of the regular season.