SEC Tournament: Day 1 roundup
Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 9:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 9:56 p.m.
ATLANTA — Frank Martin’s first game back wasn’t the last of the season for South Carolina, but it turned out to be the last game Tony Barbee will coach at Auburn.
Martin, who was suspended for the final game of the regular season for his conduct during last week’s game against Florida, saw his team stay alive for at least one more day in the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome with Wednesday night’s 74-56 win over Auburn.
It was South Carolina’s first win in the tournament since 2008.
“We probably played as well as we have all year,” Martin said. “We get to live another day and this time of the year that’s all you can ask.”
The Gamecocks, the 13th-seeded team in the tournament, hit nine of their first 13 from 3-point range and 14-of-17 free throws in the first 12 minutes of the second half. South Carolina (13-19) led by as many as 21 points in the second half.
The Gamecocks, who face Arkansas today on Florida’s side of the bracket, finished the game making 11-of-15 3-point shots as Duane Notice came off the bench to score a career-high 23 points making all four of his 3-point attempts.
“I just wanted to play with confidence because I wanted to extend my seniors’ careers here,” Notice said.
Brenton Williams helped South Carolina, which had lost both games during the regular season against Auburn, get out to an 11-point halftime lead by scoring all of his 16 points in the first half.
Auburn, which was led by Chris Denson’s 14 points, finishes its season with a 14-16 record.
Barbee’s firing was confirmed following the game by Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs.
“After careful evaluation of the last four years, I feel this is best for the program,” Jacobs said in a statement. “I believe we should compete for championships in men’s basketball. It’s time for somebody else to have a turn.”
Mississippi State 82, Vanderbilt 68: Craig Sword scored 20 points and Mississippi State ended a 13-game losing streak by beating Vanderbilt in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Roquez Johnson had 18 points and Fred Thomas had 16 for Mississippi State (14-18). The 14th-seeded Bulldogs took their first win since beating Auburn on Jan. 22.
Mississippi State plays No. 6 seed Mississippi (18-13) Thursday. It will be only the second time the Bulldogs have played Ole Miss in the SEC tournament, following a 73-64 win over the Rebels in the 2003 tournament.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.