No. 12 Auburn routs 15th-ranked South Carolina 86-55 to reach SEC Tournament semifinals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Johni Broome had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 12 Auburn to an 86-55 romp over 15th-ranked South Carolina on Friday at the Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

Auburn (25-7) routed South Carolina by 40 when these teams met in the regular season. The Tigers led by as much as 32 on Friday after being excited about finally getting to play their first game at this tournament.

Not that coach Bruce Pearl was surprised.

“I think the people are wondering why we were so excited about playing,” Pearl said. “I don’t know if that should even be a question. ... We try to always be excited about playing and respecting our opponent. We recognize that we need to make plays on both ends of the floor.”

Chaney Johnson scored 11 points and K.D. Johnson added 10 for Auburn. The second-seeded Tigers will play in the semifinals Saturday against ninth-seeded Mississippi State, which earlier Friday beat regular-season champ Tennessee 73-56.

South Carolina (26-7) trimmed the lead to 10 points twice. Auburn answered and continued to build its offensive momentum to lead 46-26 at the half. The second half was much of the same with Auburn dominating offensively and defensively.

“Man, Coach always tells us now is the time to go on a run … make shots,” Broome said. “That is how you advance in the tournament, the NCAA Tournament and how you win games.”

B.J. Mack’s 14 points paced South Carolina with Zachary Davis adding 10 points.

Auburn has been the toughest challenge for South Carolina offensively this season, but Mack was equally impressed with their defensive effort.

“They really try to pressure the ball,” Mack said. “That is really the main thing for them. They try to rattle you by getting all up in your face.

Auburn shot 49.3% from the field while holding South Carolina to 28.1%.

“It was just a tough day at the office for us, that’s for sure,” South Carolina coach Lamont Paris said. “Auburn’s got a really good team. They are aggressive. They feed off of energy and momentum.

“They played well. They competed really hard. Our guys competed. They just didn’t play well. At this time of the year, that means they make you go home.”

BIG PICTURE

Auburn: The Tigers dominated in the paint, outscoring South Carolina 42-22, as well as on points off turnovers with a 17-2 edge.

“Pregame Coach said, inside-out,” Broome said. “That’s what he always preaches. Get inside and they will play one-on-one the whole game. When you’ve got our guys, our front line, scoring down there it is kind of hard for the other team.”

South Carolina: Paris received a six-year extension worth $26 million earlier Friday. Now he can start prepping for an NCAA Tournament berth.

UP NEXT

Auburn split the season series with Mississippi State with each team winning on its home court. The Tigers won 78-63 on March 2.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball