South Carolina drops Auburn; Auburn drops coach

At SEC Tournament

ATLANTA (AP) — Auburn's scouting report said South Carolina freshman guard Duane Notice does most of his scoring by driving to the basket.

Notice showed he also has an outside game.

Notice led South Carolina's hot 3-point shooting with a career-high 23 points and the Gamecocks beat Auburn 74-56 on Wednesday night in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs fired coach Tony Barbee following the game.

Jacobs announced the decision shortly after the team left the Georgia Dome.

Jacobs said in a statement a change "is best for the program."

"I believe we should compete for championships in men's basketball," Jacobs said. "It's time for somebody else to have a turn. We need to find somebody to come in here and take what we have here now and put some more in and compete for SEC titles."

South Carolina set a season high by making 11 of 15 3-pointers, including four by Notice, who said he carried a good practice earlier Wednesday into the game.

"I was just feeling good at the shoot-around, trying to get in some extra shots," Notice said.

Brenton Williams had 16 points with four 3s.

South Carolina (13-19), the No. 13 seed, will play fifth-seeded Arkansas Thursday after winning its first SEC tournament game since 2008.

Chris Denson led Auburn (14-16) with 14 points. The Tigers closed the season by losing seven of 10 games, leading to speculation about the status of fourth-year coach Tony Barbee.

Denson, second in the SEC averaging 19.2 points per game, was held to two points in the first half, when he attempted only two shots. He made only three of six shots from the field as he consistently found the lane clogged when he tried to drive to the basket.

"They know I'm a driver and they were collapsing the lane," Denson said.

Auburn, the No. 12 seed, swept two regular-season games with South Carolina as Denson averaged 23.5 points.

"They definitely clogged the paint more this game," Denson said. "The first two games I felt like I was tip-toeing through the lane. ... They clogged the lane and made us shoot from the outside."

Auburn made only 16 of 42 shots (38.1 percent).

Led by Notice, South Carolina was most effective when shooting 3s.

"Our scouting report on him was he was a driver," said Auburn's Allen Payne. "He got hot and made some shots from the perimeter."

Barbee noted Auburn doubled its SEC wins from three in the 2012-13 season to a 6-12 conference record this year. Asked if this season was frustrating, Barbee said "It wasn't frustrating at all. ... This season was a bounce-back year."

While Denson had a quiet opening 20 minutes, the Gamecocks extended their lead with hot 3-point shooting. Williams and Notice combined to make seven of nine 3s as South Carolina led 38-26 at halftime.

Michael Carrera and Sindarius Thornwell opened the second half with 3-pointers as South Carolina stretched the lead to 44-26.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin made his return to the bench. Martin was suspended for one game last week by athletic director Ray Tanner for his harsh language aimed at Notice during a loss to top-ranked Florida last week.

Notice had his career-best game in Martin's return, also setting a high with eight rebounds. He averaged only 7.6 points this season, including his previous high of 19 points against Texas A&M on Jan. 29.

Laimonas Chatkevicius had 11 points and nine rebounds for South Carolina. Thornwell had 10 points. Mindaugas Kacinas had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Williams, a senior, savored his first win in the SEC tournament.

"It definitely feels good to get the first win at this tournament in quite some time at the university," Williams said.

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