NCAA Basketball Auburn TigersSEC BasketballSouth Carolina Gamecocks

2014 SEC Tournament Preview: No. 13 South Carolina vs. No. 12 Auburn

Auburn 2014 SEC Tournament

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the 2014 SEC tournament pits the No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks against the No. 12 Auburn Tigers at 7:00 p.m. ET on the SEC Network and ESPN3. The winner will face the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second round.

The Gamecocks finished the 2013-14 college basketball season with a 12=19 record, which is actually better than they could have hoped for. Their biggest accomplishments were the early-season two-point loss to the Baylor Bears and the recent upset over the then-No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats.

Expected to be led by youth, Frank Martin got a pleasant surprise when senior Brenton Williams stepped up and has led the team with over 15 points per game. The Gamecocks are on the right path under Martin and will be a competitor somewhere in the near future.

Auburn, expected to be the last-placed team in the SEC, surprised everyone with the success of transfer from the Virginia Cavaliers, K.T. Harrell. He is averaging over 18 points a game, and has added to Auburn’s veteran offense with Chris Denson, who is averaging over 19 points per game.

Unfortunately, two top scorers won’t win a lot of games when the rest of the team doesn’t chip in. The Tigers’ best win of the year has to be over the Clemson Tigers, and they are one of the few teams in the SEC that were able to keep it close against the No. 1 Florida Gators.

Prediction: The Gamecocks and Tigers will keep it close, but Denson and Harrell are too much for the young South Carolina team to handle. I predict a 62-54 Auburn win, with the deciding factor coming down to whether Gamecocks freshman Sindarius Thornwell or Tigers freshman Tahj Shamsid-Dean plays better.

Remember, it’s extremely difficult for a team to win against the same team three times, but with how Auburn dominated South Carolina earlier in the season in both wins, it’s hard to see anything except a Tigers win.

Taylor Sturm is a Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.