- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - The points didn’t come from the usual sources. South Carolina still scored early and often.

Kaela Davis scored all 21 of her points in the first half in No. 5 South Carolina’s 73-47 victory over Auburn on Thursday night.

Fellow guard Bianca Cuervas-Moore added a season-high 19 points, and A’ja Wilson had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Gamecocks (12-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference). They raced to a 23-2 lead and had a 29-6 advantage after the first quarter as Auburn’s full-court press failed to stymie South Carolina’s offensive attack.

With Auburn’s defensive game plan focused on slowing down A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates, the guards made Auburn pay with a flurry of 3-pointers that buried the Tigers early.

“It’s not surprising anymore that people are packing the paint in,” Davis said. “I honestly thought after hitting a couple of shots they’d spread it out a little bit more, but they didn’t.”

By the time Auburn adjusted, it was far too late.

“We tried to force it down (into the post) a little bit, but Auburn was stubborn in their zone defense by collapsing and controlling what we did in the paint,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “I just thought our post players played through it. They continued to play defense. They continued to rebound the basketball.”

Katie Frerking led Auburn (11-5, 1-1) with 16 points. The Tigers held South Carolina below its SEC-leading average of 82.3 points, but shot just 27.6 from the field in the game - going 2 for 13 in the first quarter.

“I thought a few times, because of their length, we shot it too quick,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We thought they were going to block it. If we had just calmed down and made some shots, it would’ve been much better.”

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: Coming off a 48-point win against Alabama to open SEC play, the Gamecocks ran roughshod over another SEC team in their bid for a fourth consecutive regular-season SEC title.

Auburn: The Tigers were coming off a seven-point win over Florida to open SEC play, but South Carolina’s size advantage on the inside and efficiency from the field was too much to overcome.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Mississippi State, the lone SEC team ranked ahead of South Carolina, puts its undefeated record on the line against Arkansas and Tennessee this week. The Gamecocks are scheduled to meet the Bulldogs at home on Jan. 23.

MILESTONE

South Carolina’s win over Auburn marked the 200th victory for Staley during her nine seasons as the Gamecocks’ coach. Overall, she has a 371-157 record in 17 seasons.

UP NEXT

South Carolina: At Florida on Sunday.

Auburn: Host Mississippi on Sunday.

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