NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With the Tigers and South Carolina ready to start their second matchup of the season in the SEC quarterfinals, Auburn is looking for revenge and South Carolina is looking to get another statement win to make a case for its tournament dreams.
Here are some quick players to watch and keys to victory for both teams.
Players to watch
Chris Silva (South Carolina):
The last time the Tigers faced off against the Gamecocks, Chris Silva had a career game from the field. The South Carolina big man racked up a career-best 32 points on 11 of 12 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds in the 80-77 upset win.
Silva’s dominance can be linked to his physicality on the low block, but sometimes that comes at a price. He has registered at least four fouls in 18 of his games this season, and he fouled out in four of those.
Auburn’s coach Bruce Pearl knows the extent of Silva’s impact and is something that the Tigers will be keying in on in the quarterfinal matchup.
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“Silva is a major factor, how the officials referee him is huge,” Pearl said. “He's so active, athletic, bouncy. He gets himself into some trouble, he draws a lot of fouls. Draws a lot of contact.”
Anfernee McLemore and Horace Spencer (Auburn):
The big man duo for Auburn has hit their stride down the stretch with the absence of Austin Wiley, who suffered from another lower leg injury.
The last time Auburn and South Carolina met, McLemore and Spencer had to handle more of the load with Wiley out. The lack of depth at the center position was a problem for Auburn and South Carolina exploited that.
Both Spencer and McLemore fouled out of the game with a little under eight minutes left in the game and Auburn was forced to a small-ball lineup against a more physical South Carolina squad.
Ever since that game, both McLemore and Spencer have yet to foul out. If they can handle the physicality of South Carolina and don’t have to resort to bringing in a banged-up Wiley is something to look for.
Keys to victory
Auburn’s big guys – McLemore and Spencer – need to stay out of foul trouble and slow down Silva. Forcing Silva into foul trouble of his own is a way to do this.
The Gamecocks need to start the game off hitting their 3s. The success from deep will spread the floor and let Silva go one-on-one with down low. That recipe usually ends up with Silva drawing a foul or making the basket.
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