Auburn's season ends in 74-56 loss to South Carolina in opening - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Auburn's season ends in 74-56 loss to South Carolina in opening round of SEC tourney

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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.(AP Photo/Steve Helber) 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.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

ATLANTA (AP) — Freshman Duane 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.

South Carolina set a season high by making 11 of 15 3-pointers, including four by Notice. 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.

[Read:  Barbee fired two hours after loss to South Carolina]

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.

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

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.

Follow Charles Odum on Twitter @CharlesOdum

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