Before Saturday, Auburn hadn’t beaten South Carolina in Columbia since February 5, 2014. 109 points later, the losing streak was no more. It’s the most points an Auburn team has ever scored on the road against an SEC opponent.
Head coach Bruce Pearl praised the play of his backcourt in the game.
“When we’ve played South Carolina and gotten great point guard play, we’ve been successful,” he said, “To have both Allen Flanigan and Sharife Cooper on the floor together right now, it gives me two playmaking guards that I can work through.”
Flanigan made four of his six shots beyond the 3-point arc and was perfect from the free throw line, an area where the Tigers have regularly struggled. He finished with a career-best 24 points. Sharife Cooper was excellent as well, netting 11 assists in the first half on the way to a 16-point showing.
“Sharife was upset because he only had one assist in the second half,” Pearl said in jest. Five Tigers scored in double figures, in large part due to Sharife’s success passing the ball and finding players in space.
South Carolina came into the game as one of the best rebounding teams in the country, especially on the offensive glass. In their three conference games prior to facing Auburn, the Gamecocks were snagging an average of 16.7 offensive boards per game. Auburn outrebounded the Gamecocks on both ends of the floor, squashing their best advantage.
The lessons of Wednesday’s loss at Arkansas were hard ones, and the Tigers were careful to avoid losing another big first half lead, having led the Razorbacks by as many as 19 points. After going into halftime, Jaylin Williams said the team was careful to “keep our energy” and not lose focus.
Allen Flanigan attributed the win to the team’s communication throughout the game, something that was lacking in the Arkansas game. Flanigan continued his strong sophomore season after scoring around 3 points per game as a freshman. After his career performance, Flanigan shrugged off the praise.
“It’s real good to score that well, but it’s not about scoring, it’s about getting stops, playing defense and us coming out with a win.”
He was pleased, however, to know that Auburn’s performance Saturday will be remembered in Auburn’s record books.
“We made history tonight.”
Now with a much-needed win in its back pocket, Auburn will return home for a challenging week. On Tuesday, a top-25 Missouri squad will visit Auburn Arena before Auburn heads west for a road tilt with the #2-ranked Baylor Bears in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.