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Step into Black History Month with the Auburn Tigers taking on the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks

Auburn, Ala — As Black History Month kicks off, the Auburn Tigers (14-6, 3-4) take on the #1 South Carolina Gamecocks (19-0, 7-0) inside Neville Arena. 

For the Tigers, this game comes with some program significance if Auburn emerges victorious. In terms of overall record, a win would guarantee Auburn a winning regular season record, 12 home game wins, and secure a four-game SEC winning streak for the first time in 10 years. 

Against South Carolina though, a win tomorrow snaps a 14-game losing streak against the Gamecocks, could also secure a second win against a top ten opponent this season, and be Auburn’s first win against a number one seed since the 1990 Final Four against Louisville. 

Regardless of the historical and record significance though, tomorrow’s game will prove to be just as challenging if not more so than the LSU game, as Auburn looks to redeem themselves from last year’s game where they lost 83-48 in front of an Auburn home crowd. 

This year’s game is going to be challenging for the Tigers, especially as the Gamecocks lead the nation in field goal percentage (52.3%), 3-point percentage (42.5%), field goal defense (30.8%), blocks per game (8.6), defensive rebounds per game (33.9), and scoring margin (+35.8). They are also second in the nation in average points per game (90.0) and have held opponents to an average of 54.2 points per game. 

The challenge for Auburn will be to either score more points than they are averaging (66.9 points per game) or hold South Carolina to score closer to the average points per game of Auburn opponents (55.8 points per game). 

For Auburn to defeat South Carolina, holding South Carolina to fewer points per game than they are averaging seems to be the way to go, especially since it worked against LSU as Auburn held LSU to 62 points when they have a season average of 89.8 points per game. 

However, for Auburn to succeed in reducing South Carolina’s scoring opportunities, the Tigers will need to dominate the glass and the clock and prevent the Gamecocks from having scoring opportunities with blocks and steals. 

This means that Taylen Collins and Mar’shaun Bostic need to perform at their highest level and have the defensive games of their careers. Collins leads Auburn in both offensive and defensive rebounds in steals, with an average of 6.4 rebounds per game and 0.8 blocks per game. Bostic leads Auburn in steals per game, having a season average of 1.8 steals per game. 

One of the challenges though with the strategy of playing more defensive is the fact that Auburn does not have a good match-up with South Carolina’s 6’7” center Kamilla Cardoso who averages 13.7 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game. Auburn’s best two matchups for the center are 6’4” Savanah Scott and 6’5” Oyindamola Akinbolawa. 

Along with the defensive struggles Auburn may face in the lane, Auburn will also face the nation’s top 3-point shooter in Te-Hina Paopao who has a 3-point percentage of 50.5% and is 46-91 from behind the arc. 

With the struggles Auburn may face on defense inside the lane and behind the arc, it may suggest Auburn should play a more offensive game, however, Auburn is not a great shooting team, and it worked against LSU who both teams have faced. 

Auburn defeated LSU 67-62 and South Carolina defeated LSU 76-70, defeating LSU by just one more point than Auburn, which mathematically suggests that South Carolina will defeat Auburn by one point when taking the LSU scores into account. 

However, for all sports, mathematical predictions of the score never truly work, as there are too many variables at play for it to work. 

Auburn and South Carolina will tip-off at 7 pm CT inside of Neville Arena, so step into Black History Month by watching Auburn and South Carolina in a women’s basketball face-off. 

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