COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Chris Silva had a career-high 32 points, and Felipe Haase's 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left put South Carolina ahead for good in an 80-77 victory over No. 16 Auburn on Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks (10-8, 5-1) continued their improbable SEC run. They entered league play with a 5-7 preconference mark, but have won five of their first six, beating a pair of ranked opponents in Mississippi State and the Tigers.
The Tigers (13-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) used a late 12-0 run to wipe out South Carolina's 71-61 lead. They were still ahead 77-75 after Jared Harper's two foul shots with 56.3 to go. That's when Haase nailed his long-range, go-ahead basket from the right corner.
Chuma Okeke missed a 3-pointer and Danjel Purifoy couldn't connect on a driving basket on Auburn's next possession before Silva came down with his 14th rebound and got fouled with 2.5 seconds to play.
Silva made both, and Auburn threw away the pass on its final possession to lose its second straight heartbreaker following an 82-80 loss to Kentucky last Saturday.
Auburn appeared to be finished after Hassani Gravett's floater went in just as the shot clock expired for a 71-61 lead with 6:33 to go. But the explosive Tigers shot their way back in it, making five of their next six attempts in a two-minute span.
Okeke's 3 from the left front put Auburn ahead 73-71 with 4:01 remaining, capping a 12-0 surge.
Silva bettered his previous high of 27 points, accomplished twice against Kentucky. He made 11 of 12 shots and 10 of 11 free throws, and had four of South Carolina's eight blocks.
Brown and Harper scored 17 points each for Auburn.
Silva got the Gamecocks going early on both ends of the court. He scored the first four points and had two early blocks. When Hassani Gravett hit two straight 3-pointers and Haase made an open jumper, South Carolina was ahead 25-14 with 9:20 left in the half and Auburn hurting from cold shooting and foul trouble.
Auburn rallied when Brown heated up. After missing his first three shots, Brown scored 10 points as the Tigers closed the half on a 24-12 run.
THE BIG PICTURE
Auburn: The Tigers showed spurts of stellar play amid several long stretches of offensive struggles. They started the game going 4 of 14 from the field before their closing run. They fell behind 62-53, and then scored six points in four seconds to tighten things up.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have found their stride at the perfect time with Silva, the 6-foot-9 senior, in charge. He has become the team's most accomplished and capable scorer.
Auburn plays at No. 22 Mississippi State on Saturday night.
South Carolina visits Oklahoma State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.