NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jared Harper scored 27 points and No. 22 Auburn showcased its record-setting 3-point attack to beat South Carolina 73-64 on Friday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The fifth-seeded TIgers (24-9) won their sixth straight to advance to a Saturday semifinal against No. 8 seed Florida (19-14). The Gators eliminated the top seed in this tournament Friday with a 76-73 quarterfinal upset of No. 9 LSU.
South Carolina (16-16) waits to see whether it merits an NIT invitation. The fourth-seeded Gamecocks went 5-8 in nonconference action this season but earned the fourth seed in this tournament by going 11-7 in SEC play.
Auburn went 13 of 34 from 3-point range and broke the SEC record for 3-point baskets in a single season by increasing its total 368. That surpasses the record that had been held by Arkansas, which made 361 during its drive to an NCAA Tournament runner-up finish in 1995.
South Carolina and Auburn posted identical 11-7 SEC regular-season records, but the Gamecocks got the No. 4 seed and bye to the quarterfinals by virtue of their 80-77 victory over Auburn on Jan. 22.
Silva scored a career-high 32 points in that January game and started the rematch by picking up right where he left off. He had 14 points by halftime as South Carolina led for much of the first half.
Auburn rallied with its perimeter game and forced a 36-all halftime tie when Danjel Purifoy hit a 3-point shot with 23 seconds left as the shot clock was expiring.
The Tigers pulled ahead early in the second half and stayed in front thanks to Harper, who continually drew fouls driving to the basket and even once while attempting a 3-pointer.
Harper didn’t have any free-throw attempts in the first half but was 12 of 14 from the line in the second half.
Neither team ever led by more than six points until Auburn finally started to pull away in the last four minutes of the game.
Auburn: The Tigers won their lone SEC Tournament title in 1985 and haven’t reached the championship game since 2000, but they have reason to feel confident that could change this year. Auburn beat Florida 76-62 at home on Feb. 9 in their lone regular-season matchup.
South Carolina: If this was the final game of Silva’s college career, he made it one to remember. The Gamecocks just didn’t give the 6-foot-9 senior enough help. South Carolina outscored Auburn by seven points when he was on the floor, but the Gamecocks were outscored by 16 points when he wasn’t in the game.
Auburn plays Florida in an SEC semifinal Saturday.
South Carolina waits to learn whether it gets an NIT invitation.