AUBURN — Auburn needed a spark.
Devan Cambridge was it.
Auburn’s electric freshman scored 26 points off the bench Wednesday night and the Tigers bounced back to their winning ways with an 80-67 win over South Carolina in Auburn Arena.
Cambridge rocked the rim with high-flying dunks, sent the arena into a roar with deep 3-pointers, and emerged with a sensational career-high just as Auburn looked to rebound from two brutal losses last week on the road.
He scored 14 by the half. He had only scored four points total in five SEC games going into Wednesday. In a back-and-forth game with streaky scoring, his back-to-back baskets stretched a five-point Auburn lead to 10 at 63-53 with 11:36 left.
And Auburn Arena had plenty to be excited about again. Auburn went on to lead by 20 on its way to 16-2 on the season and 4-2 in the SEC. Auburn started the season 15-0 before losing two double-digit decisions at rival Alabama and at Florida last week.
Auburn’s slump carried into the early stages of the game, with Auburn hitting just one of its first 10 shots.
But sparked by the efforts of the emerging Cambridge, the speedy J’Von McCormick and a senior guard in Samir Doughty regaining his old confidence, Auburn surged ahead and stayed ahead.
McCormick scored 13 points. Doughty had 11. Doughty missed his first five shots Wednesday bringing his road woes back home, but he then scored all his points in the second half, finding his rhythm again.
South Carolina fell to 10-8 on the season and 2-3 in the SEC.
Auburn is set to step out of conference play Saturday, hosting Iowa State in the Big 12-SEC Challenge at 11 a.m.
Wednesday night, Auburn led 39-31 at the half.
Auburn led by nine with 5:39 until the half after Cambridge’s fourth 3-pointer of the first half. South Carolina came right back with a 9-0 run to tie it late in the half, before Auburn closed the half on a 6-0 run to take that lead into the locker room.
The back-and-forth play continued in the second half, with Auburn stretching out an 11-point lead at 44-33 before pesky South Carolina cut it down to a 48-47 lead over the next three minutes.
Cambridge hit 10 of 14 shots from the field, draining six of nine from 3-point range.