AUBURN 74, USC 71
By JEFFREY COLLINS
COLUMBIA — Rob Chubb scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as the Tigers (8-7, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) beat the Gamecocks 74-71 on Saturday. It was the senior’s best SEC game since scoring 18 points two years ago in size 16 shoes he borrowed from the South Carolina equipment manager in another win for Auburn.
Frankie Sullivan led Auburn with 17 points as the Tigers survived 27 lead changes to start the SEC season 2-0 for the first time in 10 seasons. Auburn had started 0-2 in the SEC the past five years.
The Tigers took the lead for good after Sullivan’s two free throws with 2:41 to go put them up 73-71. Chubb missed one of two free throws with 35.2 seconds left, giving South Carolina (10-5, 0-2) one last chance.
Brian Richardson missed a fairly open 3-pointer with 10 seconds left and Bruce Ellington forced up another 3-pointer that didn’t have a chance against a double team as the Gamecocks started SEC play 0-2 for a second year in a row.
It was the second consecutive game in which Ellington couldn’t get off a good shot on South Carolina’s final possession. But he looked a lot less rusty than he did in the SEC opener against Mississippi State, leading the Gamecocks with 18 points.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin said Ellington is still learning plenty, including his defensive schemes, but has to be out there for the Gamecocks to have a chance.
“He’s got a lot of pride and he likes to win. And he is not scared to make a play. Based on the last couple days of practice, I knew he’d play a lot better today,” Martin said.
Damien Leonard added 17 points and nine rebounds for South Carolina.
Auburn shot 58.5 percent (24 of 41) but turned over the ball 17 times to keep South Carolina in it. Brian Greene Jr. scored 14 points, making all six of his shots, two of them behind the arc.
The normally fiery Martin, who is in his first season at South Carolina, praised his guards and had only gentle criticism for his big men. His starting frontcourt had just six of the team’s 31 rebounds.
“Our guys are trying. They really are,” Martin said.