The duo of Johni Broome and Wendell Green, Jr. has led the Tigers throughout the season, and it was more of the same Saturday in Columbia. The duo earned a pair of double-doubles as Auburn took down the Gamecocks on their home turf, 81-66.
“We obviously respected our opponent, played well early which we have to do,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “Give South Carolina credit. They never quit.”
Despite the convincing win, it looked like Auburn was in trouble during the second half, despite entering the final frame with a 39-22 lead. Under head coach Lamont Paris, South Carolina went on an 18-3 run, cutting what was a 25-point lead to 10 and forcing Bruce Pearl to call a timeout. One of the main contributors to Auburn giving up a chunk of the lead was a 1-3-1 zone that forced Auburn to stay outside and take shots beyond the arc, and the Tigers were just 3-of-17 on three-pointers during the win.
Auburn took back control again, and it was never that close again as the two-game road trip came to an end with a victory.
“It was a good response. Wendell had a lot to do with it,” Pearl said. “I thought the play of Allen Flanigan will go tremendously unnoticed.”
Flanigan nearly had his first double-double of the season, finishing the contest with eight points and 10 rebounds, along with zero turnovers.
While South Carolina’s Gregory Jackson II nearly stole the show with 31 points, including 22 on 7-of-9 shooting in the second half, the true highlight of the game was the combo of Broome and Green.
The transfer forward from Morehead State found his groove once again after back-to-back games under 10 points, dominating the South Carolina defense with 27 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Behind Broome, the Tigers matched South Carolina on the glass (35-35) and imposed their will with 46 points in the paint to the Gamecocks’ 20.
“From my standpoint, I’ve had a couple rough games, so it was good to get it going,” said Broome on his performance.
Orchestrating the offense for the Tigers, point guard Wendell Green Jr. continued his hot stretch in SEC play, finishing with 16 points and dishing a season-high 12 assists. Despite his streak of 25 consecutive makes at the free throw line coming to end, it was another strong night for Green as the Auburn offense continued to find its groove.
“It boosts the whole team's confidence,” Broome said of Green's performance. “You know Wen is a special player.”
The duo was joined by Jaylin Williams as Auburn’s three players in double figures, with the senior forward earning 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Yohan Traore also matched a career-high with eight points, a solid performance for a true freshman that has struggled in recent weeks.
With a two-game road trip wrapped up, Auburn will be back home on Wednesday as Bruce Pearl faces off with Buzz Williams and Texas A&M once again.
“Our guys have taken care of business. That’s three road wins so far for us. We all recognize though that the schedule toughens starting next week,” Pearl said.
The Tigers will be looking to defend their home winning streak(28), which is the longest active streak in the country, and avenge last year's loss to the Aggies in the SEC Tournament. The game will tip-off from Neville Arena at 8 p.m. CST.
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