Bruce Pearl, Auburn, SEC power rankings

Auburn was ready to play from the tip-off.

Auburn basketball came into Colonial Life Arena Tuesday night and came out with a win, in part due to a big game from Eastern Kentucky transfer Wendell Green Jr, who scored 22 points in a 81-66 win. The high scorer for the Gamecocks was Erik Stevenson, who managed 25 points on a 9-of-15 night from the field, including 5-of-8 from behind the arc. The win moves the Tigers to 13-1 on the year and 2-0 in SEC play and Carolina to 9-4 (0-1).

Takeaway #1: Greenlight

Wendell Green Jr. had a hot night from the field, setting the pace and giving the Tigers a double-digit cushion early in the contest coming off the bench. Green ended up 7-of-15 from the field, hitting many tough shots against South Carolina, adding a perfect mark from the charity stripe, five boards, and five assists as well. 

Takeaway #2: Miscues on both sides of the ball

South Carolina was out of place and constantly giving free passes to the basket in the first half. While their defense has been their specialty this year, Frank Martin’s squad gave up uncontested threes, fast-break dunks, and open layups throughout the first half Tuesday night. On offense, Erik Stevenson managed 25 points, more than double the next highest scorer for the Gamecocks. While South Carolina can win non-conference games with Stevenson taking over, it will take more than just him to win in a tough SEC slate. 

Takeaway #3: Tiger tops in SEC?

The win moves Auburn to 2-0 in the SEC, and a major threat to the Tigers’ quest for the conference title, Kentucky, just lost to a quality team that Auburn beat by double digits just last week. With momentum on their side, Auburn could very well play its way into an auto-bid for the Big Dance come SEC tournament time. 

Looking ahead, the Gamecocks travel to Nashville to play Vanderbilt on Saturday before traveling to Knoxville just 3 days later, as they try to regain momentum. Auburn will look to remain undefeated in conference play when they play host to Florida on Saturday then travel to Tuscaloosa for a rivalry game with Nate Oats and Alabama on Tuesday.