South Carolina-Auburn Preview
South Carolina's attempt to carry its undefeated start into SEC play will come against a team that it's often struggled to beat.
The 22nd-ranked Gamecocks will seek just their second win in eight matchups against Auburn on Tuesday night.
South Carolina (13-0) extended its best start since going 17-0 in 1933-34 with an 86-76 win against Memphis on Saturday. The Gamecocks didn't take the lead for good in that tight battle until Mindaugas Kacinas' two free throws with 8:39 remaining, among their school-record 46 on 63 attempts.
Duane Notice went 12 of 12 from the line while scoring 15 points. Sindarius Thornwell had a team-best 18 points and Michael Carrera had 16 with 11 rebounds.
"(This game) gets us ready for conference play because every game in conference is going to be just like that. Every game is going to be a battle," Thornwell said. "Having this game right before conference was good for us. ... We've been in tough games like this the last three seasons but we've ended up on the other side (of the scoreboard)."
South Carolina started 9-3 in 2014-15 and won its final seven nonconference games, capped by an upset of then-No. 9 Iowa State. The Gamecocks then went 1-6 to open their SEC season en route to a 6-12 finish.
"We tasted a little bit of success and everyone kind of got wrapped up," Kacinas said. "Right after that, we just went down the cliff. This year, we've tried to stay focus. We don't care about what's our record. We're just trying to keep moving forward."
Among those early league defeats was a 71-68 loss at Auburn on Jan. 17, their third straight on that court and the only meeting between the schools in 2014-15.
Auburn (7-5, 1-0) graduated its leading scorer from last season's game but has one of the best in the SEC this season in newcomer Kareem Canty, a transfer from Marshall averaging 19.3 points.
Canty and freshman Bryce Brown each scored 20 in the Tigers' SEC opener, an 83-77 win over Tennessee on Saturday.
Another transfer, Tyler Harris, provided 19 as the short-handed Tigers (7-5, 1-0) avoided a third consecutive defeat. T.J. Dunans, averaging 12.4 points, is among four players that are out for the program and T.J. Lang's status is unclear because of a concussion suffered Saturday.
Brown will try to make up for those absences by scoring at least 20 in a third consecutive game. Much of that production in the past two contests has come from the 3-point line, where he's 11 for 21.
"We have these injuries that have definitely affected us as a team, but I definitely still think we can compete in the SEC and win a lot of ballgames," Brown told the school's official website. "Nobody knew we would have these injuries, so I prepared myself at all times."
Notice has a combined for 39 points in his past two games against Auburn, including a 74-56 victory in the 2014 SEC tournament. The Gamecocks have lost all six regular-season games versus the Tigers since the beginning of 2010-11.