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College basketball: UMass product fired as Auburn coach

Auburn has fired men’s basketball coach Tony Barbee after four seasons.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Auburn has fired men’s basketball coach Tony Barbee after four seasons.

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs fired basketball coach Tony Barbee shortly after the team left the Georgia Dome in Atlanta following Auburn’s 74-56 loss to South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference tournament Wednesday night.

Barbee insisted after the game the Tigers improved by finishing 14-16 overall and 6-12 in the Southeastern Conference. He said after the game he expected to meet with Jacobs when the team returned to Auburn.

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Jacobs didn’t wait that long. He said in a statement a change was needed.

‘‘After careful evaluation of the last four years, I feel this is best for the program,’’ Jacobs said in the statement. ‘‘I believe we should compete for championships in men’s basketball. It’s time for somebody else to have a turn. We need to find somebody to come in here and take what we have here now and put some more in and compete for SEC titles.’’

Jacobs said he made the announcement Wednesday night so Barbee could tell the players before they left campus for spring break Thursday.

Barbee was 49-75 at Auburn, posting losing records in each of his four seasons. He played for the University of Massachusetts and was an assistant coach for the Minutemen from 1999-2000.

He came to Auburn after four seasons at Texas-El Paso, including a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2010.

Duane Notice led South Carolina’s hot 3-point shooting with a career-high 23 points and the Gamecocks set a season high by making 11 of 15 3-pointers, four by Notice.

Brenton Williams had 16 points with four 3s.

South Carolina (13-19), the No. 13 seed, will play fifth-seeded Arkansas Thursday after winning its first SEC tournament game since 2008.

In the other SEC first round game, Craig Sword scored 20 points and Mississippi State (14-19) ended a 13-game losing streak by beating Vanderbilt (15-16), 82-68.

Pac-12 — Askia Booker scored 21 points and keyed a late run, leading Colorado (22-10) to a 59-56 win over scrappy Southern California (11-21) in Las Vegas . . . Delon Wright scored 15 points and Jordan Loveridge added 13, helping Utah hold off Washington 67-61. Utah (21-10) dominated the first half before Washington (17-15) rallied in the second to set up a close finish . . . Joseph Young scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and Oregon (23-8) pulled away for an 88-74 victory over Oregon State (16-15).

American Athletic Conference — J.J. Moore scored 13 points, including the final two free throws after a key offensive rebound, as Rutgers defeated South Florida, 72-68, in Memphis. Kareem Jack led the Scarlet Knights (12-20) with 18 points. Victor Rudd’s 22 points led the Bulls (12-20) . . . Isaiah Sykes scored a career-high 36 points with nine rebounds, and No. 9 seed UCF (13-17) edged eighth-seeded Temple (9-22), 94-90, in double overtime.

Big East — Eugene Teague had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and scored all of Seton Hall’s points over the final 9:30 as the Pirates (16-16) prevailed for a 51-50 victory over Butler (14-17) in New York . . . Billy Garrett Jr. scored 17 points, including the clinching free throws and DePaul (12-20) surprised Georgetown (17-14) 60-56.

Big 12 — Cory Jefferson scored 20 points, Isaiah Austin added 18 and seventh-seeded Baylor (22-10) held on to beat pesky No. 10 TCU (9-22), 76-68 in Kansas City, Kan. . . . Marcus Smart scored 18 points to lead seventh-seeded Oklahoma State (21-11) to an 80-62 victory over ninth-seeded Texas Tech (14-18).

Mountain West — Spencer Butterfield’s 3-pointer and subsequent go-ahead free throws, after a Colorado State technical foul, keyed Utah State’s 73-69 comeback victory over the Rams (16-16) in Las Vegas. Preston Medlin led eighth-seeded Utah State (18-13) with 17 points. Utah State will face top-seeded San Diego State Thursday . . . Tyler Johnson scored 19 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes, as 10th seeded Fresno State (17-15) defeated Air Force (12-12), 61-59 . . . Derrick Marks scored the first 7 points, sparking a 25-0 run to open the game as No. 6 seed Boise State crushed 11th-seeded San Jose State 83-52.

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