AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Bryce Brown scored 29 points, making eight 3-pointers, and No. 14 Auburn claimed at least a share of the Southeastern Conference title with a 79-70 comeback victory over South Carolina on Saturday.
The Tigers (25-6, 13-5) earned the top seed in next week’s SEC Tournament with their first regular-season title since 1999 and third overall. Auburn would win the outright championship if No. 16 Tennessee loses to Georgia, and holds the tiebreaker thanks to a win over the Volunteers.
Auburn fans began “SEC! SEC!” chants in the final two minutes, celebrating a rare title for a long-struggling program that’s also poised to end a 15-year NCAA Tournament drought. Afterward, confetti rained down on the team as they donned SEC championship T-shirts on the court.
Brown led a comeback after Auburn trailed by 14 points midway through the first half, busted out of a shooting slump in a big way. He made 8 of 12 3-pointers after going 7 for 39 over the previous four games while nursing foot and shoulder injuries.
Jared Harper finished with 18 points and eight assists. Mustapha Heron scored 12 points and made all 10 free throw attempts. His only basket was a breakaway dunk in the final minute that brought a roar from the crowd. Horace Spencer added 11 points.
Frank Booker led South Carolina (16-15, 7-11) with 27 points and 10 rebounds after scoring 25 points in an overtime win over LSU.
Chris Silva finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 3:38 left. He was 8-of-10 shooting, but committed eight turnovers.
Wesley Myers scored 11 points.
Auburn stormed back from a 14-point deficit midway through the first half. Brown scored 15 points and made four 3-pointers over the final 6:14.
Booker hit a long 3-pointer from the top of the key that rolled around the rim before going in with five seconds left to give the Gamecocks a 37-35 halftime lead.
South Carolina: Dropped its fifth straight road game and committed a whopping 24 turnovers against a team it had beaten at home. Booker and Silva combined for 19 of the team’s first 20 points.
Auburn: Fought back after missing its first eight 3-pointers and starting 2 of 15 from the floor. Showed plenty of resilience after back to back road losses.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl joins Eddie Fogler as the only coach to win regular-season SEC titles at two schools. Volger won with Vanderbilt in 1993 and South Carolina in 1997.
Both teams are set to play in the SEC Tournament in St. Louis.
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