If there were any doubts about how Johni Broome was doing, they were effectively wiped away against South Carolina.
Broome, who had logged 10 combined points the past two games, was the highlight of No. 16 Auburn’s performance Saturday. The center had 27 points while posting a 12-of-17 shooting line and grabbing 11 rebounds in a 81-66 win against the Gamecocks.
Jaylin Williams, who was scoring in bunches ahead of Saturday, continued a now four-game streak of double-digit scoring efforts with 12 points. Wendell Green Jr., who had 16 points, finished with a season-high 12 assists, playing facilitator for a bevy of front court scoring. Freshman Yohan Traore even scored eight points, his most since the Tigers beat Colgate on Dec. 2.
Producing in such a fashion against a subpar opponent led to the Tigers’ most dominant effort in Southeastern Conference play, one of its most dominant of the entire season.
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“With the exception of, maybe, at Georgia — which is not an easy place, right? — our guys have taken care of business,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “It’s three road wins so far for us. We all recognize, though, that the schedule toughens starting next week.”
The last time Auburn had multiple players log double-doubles in a single game was when Walker Kessler had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Jabari Smith had 20 points and 14 rebounds, in the Tigers’ NCAA tournament win against Jacksonville State on March 18.
Auburn continued what has been a strong run of defensive performances, holding South Carolina to 20 of 56 shooting. The Gamecocks’ 35.7% field goal percentage was the second lowest of any opponent in conference play. The Tigers also had eight steals, their most since an 11-steal effort when they beat Georgia State.
Pearl highlighted the play of Allen Flanigan on the defensive end, saying his night was the kind that would go “tremendously unnoticed.”
“Al was once again our best defensive rebounder,” Pearl said. “Al was once again our best defender. He hardly ever got stuck, and he continues to just stay patient offensively.”
Flanigan flirted with a double-double, posting eight points and 10 rebounds. He also logged three assists and two steals along with no turnovers.
As a team, Auburn had yet to log such an efficient scoring effort in SEC play. Its 30-of-60 (60%) day was its best mark against conference foes. It generated points with high-percentage looks, scoring 46 of its 81 points in the paint. It shot 66.7% on dunks and layups.
“We knew a lot of plays were going to work for the short rolls and late at the rim,” Broome said. “That’s what we did. (Green) had 12 assists. He did a great job passing balls, looking guys off and making the right play.
Broome later added that Green’s play was the sort of thing that boosts the entire team’s confidence, saying: “Wen is a special point guard. Everybody knows he can score but I think his passing is a little bit underrated. He proved that tonight.”
Touted South Carolina freshman GG Jackson logged a game-high 30 points, serving as the black sheep on a squad of Gamecocks that couldn’t seem to get points.
While the Tigers led by as much as 26 at one point, Jackson scored seven points as part of the 16-3 run that closed that game to 10 midway through the second half. No other South Carolina player had more than five during that run.