March 4, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) – Tarence Kinsey scored 24 points and Tre Kelley hit two free throws with 1.7 seconds left to lift South Carolina to a 67-63 victory over Auburn Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Gamecocks (15-14, 6-10 Southeastern Conference) led by as many as 17 points midway through the second half, then held on to snap a four-game losing streak.
Kinsey’s two free throws with 17 seconds left gave South Carolina a 65-59 lead. Then, Quantez Robertson hit one free throw and grabbed a long rebound after missing his second attempt for the Tigers (12-15, 4-12).
Frank Tolbert hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 3.3 seconds left to make it 65-63, and South Carolina had to call time-out before its first attempt to inbound the ball.
Then, Brandon Wallace got it to an open Kelley, who drew the foul and made the clinching free throws.
It broke a string of three straight close losses by South Carolina by a combined five points. The Gamecocks will earn the No. 5 Eastern Division seed in the SEC tournament if Georgia loses to Arkansas on Sunday.
Kinsey made 4-of-8 3-pointers and 8-of-13 shots as the Gamecocks hit 50 percent from the floor. Rocky Trice had 11 points while Kelley had 10 points, five assists and three steals to overcome eight turnovers.
Rasheem Barrett led Auburn with 13 points while Robertson and Ronny LeMelle had 12 points apiece. LeMelle, playing his final home game, also had six assists and three steals.
The Gamecocks turned a 28-24 halftime lead into a 17-point cushion with an effective full-court press to open the second half.
The Tigers had a late 11-2 run capped by LeMelle’s two free throws with 19 seconds left to make it 63-59. Tolbert had forced two straight turnovers, turning one into a fastbreak dunk during the spurt.
Both teams had lengthy offensive slumps in the first half.
The Gamecocks managed only two baskets in the first 10 minutes, falling behind 15-5. The Tigers finished the half just as weakly as South Carolina started.
Auburn didn’t score over the final 5:54 and Kinsey hit two free throws with 2.1 seconds left to push South Carolina’s lead to four points.