Thornwell, No. 25 South Carolina hold off Auburn 81-69
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Sindarius Thornwell scored a season-high 22 points and No. 22 South Carolina fought off a second-half challenge to beat Auburn 81-69 on Tuesday night in the Gamecocks' Southeastern Conference opener.
Sporting their highest AP ranking in 18 years, the Gamecocks (14-0, 1-0) lost most of an 18-point first-half lead before building it back with inside baskets and foul shots.
Thornwell made 5 of 8 3-point attempts and produced his season-high point total for the second straight game after scoring 18 against Memphis.
Laimonas Chatkevicius added 12 points and 10 rebounds for South Carolina. Duane Notice and Michael Carrera both scored 12 and Marcus Stroman had 10.
The Tigers (7-6, 1-1) kept it close largely with Tyler Harris' inside play and Kareem Canty's five 3-pointers. Harris was 10 of 13 from the field for 22 points and Canty scored 21 points and had five assists.
The Gamecocks shot 50 percent from the field and harried Auburn into 21 turnovers (while committing 19) that led to 28 points.
South Carolina hasn't been ranked this high since rising to No. 5 in 1998. The Gamecocks are enjoying their longest winning streak since the 1979-80 team won 17 straight.
This one didn't come without a second-half threat. Auburn wiped out most of the Gamecocks' 18-point first-half lead with Harris' inside baskets and a 3-point barrage.
Auburn scored nine straight points, six from Harris and a 3-pointer by Brown, to close within 59-54 midway through the second half. The Gamecocks were still nursing a single-digit lead in the final 5 minutes before pounding it inside either for baskets or free throws most of the rest of the way.
The Tigers made 12 of 30 3-point attempts, including four quick ones coming out of halftime.
South Carolina: Coach Frank Martin is 2-4 against Auburn. It was the Gamecocks' first road win in an SEC opener since beating Auburn on Jan. 9, 2010.
Auburn: Has lost 15 straight games to ranked opponents and 21 of the last 22.
FREEBIES: The Gamecocks didn't approach the school-record 63 free throw attempts from the Memphis game, but did capitalize on trips to the line. South Carolina was 22 of 28 and Stroman made all eight of his attempts.
HOT HARRIS: Harris made his first nine field goal tries. He was 6 for 6 in the first half when the rest of the Auburn team was 5 of 19.
TURNOVER FEST: South Carolina built much of its first-half lead with defense and Auburn mistakes. The Gamecocks collected 15 turnovers leading to 23 points.
South Carolina hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Auburn visits Missouri on Saturday.