Auburn hosts the top ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (23-0, 10-0 SEC) on Thursday, February 9 at 7:00PM inside Neville Arena. Here’s everything you need to know about the game before the Tigers take the floor.
Previous Meeting: 94-42, South Carolina (January 5, 2023, Columbia, SC)
Auburn: The Tigers struggled offensively throughout the forty minutes, being held to single digits in the first and third quarter. The Tigers shot just 28.6% from the field, and only four players scored for the Tigers. Aicha Coulibaly led the way with 16 points on 7-21 shooting, Sania Wells had 13 points on 6-8 shooting, Sydney Shaw had 11 points making five of her fifteen attempts, and Romi Levy added two free throws.
Not only did the Tigers not shoot well, but their size was no match for the Gamecocks, as Auburn was -20 in rebounding. Auburn collected just 13 defensive rebounds, which gave South Carolina numerous opportunities for second chance points.
South Carolina: This contest marked the fifteenth win this season for Dawn Staley’s squad, which has encountered only three games with a single digit margin of victory (@ #2 Stanford, @ Miss St, @ #5 UCONN). The Gamecocks shot 63.2% as a team on 36-57 shooting (7-16 from behind the arc), and had four players in double figures. Kamilla Cardoso, a 6’7” junior added 16 points and 5 rebounds off the bench to lead the charge, and senior captain Aliyah Boston was one rebound shy of a double double, finishing with 13 points and 9 boards.
The undefeated Gamecocks had 25 assists on 36 made field goals and created offensive mismatches, forcing the Auburn defense to commit fifteen fouls, where USC went 15-18 at the free throw line.
Who To Watch:
Auburn: Coulibaly, Scott-Grayson
Auburn struggles vitally when both captains are unable to play. In fact, the Tigers are 3-5 when only one steps on the floor versus a solid 10-4 when both are active. The two leaders average right around 30 points per game for head Coach Johnnie Harris’ bunch, which equals out to be over 43% of the Tiger offensive production. Having both healthy will be a key component to watch for the Tigers, as either can rack up points fast if left alone. The Tigers are 13-6 when scoring more than 48 points, and will need much more than that to walk away with a victory after the final buzzer.
South Carolina: The Bigs, Boston and Cardoso
The saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” fits perfectly schematically for this South Carolina team. The two bigs combine for about 25 points and 18 rebounds per contest, so having 6’7” and 6’5” in a rotation is a mismatch nightmare for any defense. Make Auburn prove they have what it takes to defend the paint and make them force other players to win the game. Easier said than done, either way you draw it up, considering the Gamecocks put up 82.2 points per contest.
The Tigers have found a little bit of momentum as of late. After dropping their first six conference games, Auburn has bounced back, winning three of their last four. The team has rallied together, finding positive offense at times, and bringing defensive intensity when the shots aren’t falling.
For South Carolina, the key is to avoid the infamous “let down game”. After defeating #5 UCONN on the road, 81-77, in a very emotionally and physically draining game last time out, it can happen where teams come out lackadaisical out for their next contest against a seemingly weaker opponent. Not to mention, the Gamecocks host undefeated #3 LSU on Sunday. Two primetime matchups, with Auburn sandwiched in between. Could this be the perfect time for Auburn to play spoiler and ruin the perfect season, or will the Gamecocks come prepared and avoid a slip, keeping their resume spotless?