Auburn center Rob Chubb’s feet were killing him during the shoot-around before the Tigers’ game against South Carolina on Saturday. His size 16 feet were shoved into a teammate’s size 14 sneakers after his shoes were left behind in Alabama.
The Gamecocks loaned Chubb a pair of size 16 sneakers just before the game, and the 6-foot-10 sophomore rewarded USC by scoring a career-high 18 points in a 79-64 upset — Auburn’s first SEC win of the season.
“It just worked out too perfectly,” said Chubb, who was averaging 7.6 points per game in his old shoes. “It was weird for them, I guess. (USC) won’t do that again.”
USC coach Darrin Horn said the Gamecocks (12-7, 3-3) might have taken the struggling Tigers (8-13, 1-6) lightly. One expert last week called Auburn the worst major-conference team in nearly a generation for having an RPI ranking of 307 out of 345 Division I teams.
“It looked like a young team that somehow thought we had done something and thought it was an easy game,” Horn said. “We had the expectation that there would be some bumps in the road with a young team. We are going to find out a lot about them coming up here.”
Like last week’s loss to Kentucky, poor shooting — especially from 3-point range — hurt the Gamecocks. USC made 21 percent of its season-high 33 3-point attempts. During one possession in the second half, South Carolina rebounded three consecutive 3-point misses by guard Ramon Galloway before the sophomore connected on his fourth try, which brought a cheer of relief from the Colonial Life Arena crowd.
Auburn’s frontcourt dominated the inside game, outrebounding USC 47-35 and outscoring the Gamecocks in the paint 42-20. They also forced South Carolina to fire more shots from the perimeter.
“They didn’t get a whole lot of looks close to the basket (than) what they typically do,” said Auburn’s first-year coach Tony Barbee, who has no seniors on his roster. “I think our bigs are good enough that if you’re going to play them one-on-one, we can make people play.”
With the edge around the basket, the Tigers did not shoot much from long range, going 1-for-5 on 3-pointers. It was similar to the loss at Alabama when the Tide outscored USC in the paint by 22 points and attempted three 3-point shots.
Horn blamed the loss on his team’s poor defense: “We got off to a decent start and then did not guard at all.” Forward Sam Muldrow said the Gamecocks were not moving their feet enough to stop the inside attack, and Galloway said the team lacked energy.
Galloway — making his first start of the season in place of an injured Lakeem Jackson — led the Gamecocks with 20 points and four rebounds. Muldrow added 14 points and nine rebounds. USC’s leading scorer, Bruce Ellington, was held to nine points on 4-for-12 shooting.
USC wasted a seven-point lead seven minutes into the game when its shooting went cold. The Gamecocks scored four points in the final six minutes of the half, and Auburn shot nearly 50 percent in the final 13 minutes to take a five-point halftime lead.
The Tigers started the second half with a layup from Chubb and Allen Payne added a dunk on a missed shot after a USC turnover. Auburn made eight of its first 10 shots in the second half.
USC cut the Auburn lead to five with eight minutes left as Johndre Jefferson made his first appearance in an SEC game. The senior forward blocked a career-high-tying five shots in four minutes as the Gamecocks climbed back with 3-pointers by Eric Smith and Brian Richardson.
But Auburn reestablished its inside presence, and USC did not score a field goal in the next five minutes. By that time, the Tigers led by 13 points with less than three minutes to go.
The Gamecocks have lost two straight and are heading to LSU and Vanderbilt this week. USC is 2-4 on the road this season.
“We’ve got to stay hungry as a team, stay confident, stay positive, just move on,” Galloway said.
For Chubb, Saturday was about the shoes. The Peachtree City, Ga., native said he wouldn’t mind keeping the sneakers he got from the Gamecocks.
But after the game, a USC manager came to Auburn’s locker room and asked for the shoes back.
In the Hoop: Jackson, out with a sore foot, did not sit on the USC bench because the Charlotte native developed flu-like symptoms on Saturday, the team said. He could return for Wednesday’s game at LSU. Until his injury, the 6-foot-5 forward had started every contest since coming USC except for Senior Day last season. The Gamecocks had won three straight over the Tigers. Auburn’s 79 points were the most in regulation this season. The Tigers average 62.5 points a game.
Darrin Horn postgame
Sam Muldrow, Ramon Galloway postgame
|AUBURN||Min||FG M-A||FT M-A||REB O-T||A||PF||PTS|
Percentages: FG .413, FT .765.
3-Point Goals: 1-5, .200 (Ross 1-2, Payne 0-1, Gabriel 0-1, Armstrong 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Forbes, Gabriel).
Turnovers: 9 (Payne 3, Langford 2, Wallace 2, Gabriel, Chubb).
Steals: 4 (Wallace 2, Langford, Ross).
Technical Fouls: None.
|SOUTH CAROLINA||Min||FG M-A||FT M-A||REB O-T||A||PF||PTS|
Percentages: FG .343, FT .563.
3-Point Goals: 7-33, .212 (Richardson 2-6, Galloway 2-8, Muldrow 1-3, Smith 1-5, Ellington 1-7, Cooke 0-1, Spinella 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 11 (Muldrow 5, Jefferson 5, Slawson).
Turnovers: 8 (Richardson 3, Ellington 3, Smith 2).
Steals: 4 (Muldrow, Slawson, Richardson, Spinella).
Technical Fouls: Cooke.
Officials: Joe Lindsay, Pat Adams, Patrick Evans.