Auburn travels to Columbia to play South Carolina at noon eastern on ESPN2.
Auburn (8-7) and South Carolina (3-4) both enter today’s game coming off a loss, with Auburn losing to Arkansas on Wednesday and South Carolina losing its past two games to Missouri and LSU.
Auburn currently sits at No. 67 in KenPom with South Carolina at No. 68.
What I like: South Carolina is having a weird season, already having nine cancelations or postponements and positive cases in the program, while Auburn is getting more used to playing with Sharife Cooper. This South Carolina offense is ranked as the best they’ve had in the Frank Martin, in terms of KenPom efficiency, but I’m still not sold on them hanging around if Auburn gets hot. This is also a smaller South Carolina team than we’ve seen in years past, with an average height outside of the top 50 for the first time since 2017-18. Auburn has a top 10 roster in average height. I think this means the game is more likely to be played how Auburn likes to play, fast and “high” scoring, compared to the slow, grind it out games from recent matchups with South Carolina.
What I don’t like: South Carolina. They’ve had Auburn’s number, especially in games in South Carolina. In the early part of Bruce Pearl’s time at Auburn, South Carolina outmuscled and outsized Auburn. While that may not be the case this year, Auburn still hasn’t won at South Carolina since February 2014. South Carolina is a bad perimeter shooting team, but it defends the perimeter well and doesn’t do as good of a job on two-point field goals after losing its dominant bigs from recent seasons. South Carolina is relying a lot more on its guards than usual, but it’s guards are talented and experienced.
Bottom line: This seems like Auburn’s best chance to break its losing streak in Columbia, in hindsight of the last few seasons. Like Auburn, South Carolina has high usage guards with somewhat high turnover rates. I think this game will be more in Auburn’s style compared to the low scoring fist fights of some recent South Carolina games.
Auburn should generate good looks and transition opportunities, if it can keep the turnovers even or win that battle. I see the outcome being more similar to last year’s South Carolina game.