Auburn Suffers Worst Loss Of the Season
USA TODAY Sports
It was a rough outing for an Auburn team that was forced to play catch-up for most of the night, as the Tigers were ousted by the Gamecocks, 98–69. Last night marked Auburn’s worst loss to South Carolina in program history, and the Gamecocks’ 98 points were the second most they have ever scored in SEC play.
Frank Martin’s squad has one of the best defenses in the nation, but a strong shooting performance is what won his team the game. The Tigers’ perimeter defense was woeful and prevented any possibility of a comeback run, as USC hit 15-of-26 from three-point range and beat Auburn in nearly every offensive category in the box score.
Danjel Purifoy played his worst game of the year and was terrible on both ends of the court. On defense, he was only able to muster up a late hand to the face on Gamecock shooters, resulting in plenty of made three’s for the opposition. And on offense, the freshman guard was a nonfactor, scoring zero points in 24 minutes of play. Typically this season, a strong offensive showing has made up for Purifoy’s apparent lack of effort on defense, but last night certainly did not follow that same trend.
The lone high point of the game came from Austin Wiley. The young center was able to reach a milestone by delivering the first double-double performance of his college career. Wiley scored 10 points while grabbing 11 rebounds in last night’s game. I continue to be impressed by how well the young, big man has transitioned to the next level, especially when considering the fact that Wiley is essentially still a high school senior.
South Carolina is a very good basketball team—there is no doubt about that now. Auburn lost to a tournament team last night, but there is zero excuse for this type of performance against any opponent. When Purifoy is eliminated as a shooting threat, the Tigers’ shooting numbers plummet. Against South Carolina, Auburn shot just 21-for-59 from the field and an abysmal 3-for-21 from three-point range. Combine poor shooting with low effort on defense, and the result will be disastrous every time.
Auburn’s next game is Saturday against TCU as a part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Horned Frogs have only lost two games at home this season—both of which were to top-5 teams. And for a team that consistently plays stronger competition in a tougher conference, TCU will give Auburn quite the test in Fort Worth this weekend, and a win for the Tigers looks highly unlikely.
Things were looking up for Bruce Pearl and Co. coming into Tuesday night’s game. Can Auburn get its momentum back by stringing together a few wins? This team is showing its youth with inconsistent play, which means time and patience can only benefit Auburn in the long run.
It’s a process, one that doesn’t happen overnight. I cannot stress that enough.