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Jan. 21, 2009

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)Zam Fredrick’s layup as time expired lifted South Carolina to 70-69 victory over No. 24 Florida.
,>Zam Fredrick and South Carolina saw to that.

Fredrick’s layup as time expired lifted the Gamecocks to a 70-69 victory on Wednesday night, ending the Gators’ 10-game win streak.

Fredrick took an on-target pass in stride from forward Mike Holmes and scored the winning hoop just before the buzzer sounded.

Only moments earlier, Fredrick missed what would’ve been a tying foul shot with 4.7 seconds left.

“I just kept believing we were going to get another shot to win the game and we did,” Fredrick said. “I’m just happy it turned out that way.”

It’s the second time in 2009 Fredrick’s beaten a Top-25 team at the end. His basket with 5.1 seconds to go was the difference in South Carolina’s 85-84 win at then 19th-ranked Baylor.

Neither Fredrick – nor any other South Carolina player – looked as if he’d have the same chance in this one as Florida (16-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) overcame a 5-point deficit to lead 67-60 with less than three minutes remaining.

“Down seven it did no good to keep trading baskets,” Devan Downey said. “I told the team we need to defend.”

And that’s what the Gamecocks (13-4, 2-2) did, holding Florida to Nick Calathes’ basket the rest of the way.

Downey, the SEC’s second-leading scorer, led the charge. He made four foul shots, then a floating 3-pointer that cut Florida’s lead to 69-67.

Calathes was the first Gators player with a chance to seal the win, but he missed the one-and-one try.

Fredrick missed a foul shot with 4.7 seconds to go and it was rebounded by Florida’s Chandler Parsons, who was quickly sent to the line with 3.3 seconds left.

He, too, missed the foul shot to set up the last crazy moments.

“We had a chance to add four points and we came up empty,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Holmes said he told Fredrick, the Georgia Tech transfer, to break long to the basket on a missed shot. “I got the rebound. I threw the pass, he just happened to catch it and we won the game,” Holmes said smiling.

The victory ended a two-game SEC losing streak for the Gamecocks and first-year coach Darrin Horn.

It was pandemonium at the Colonial Life Arena after Fredrick’s shot went through. His momentum took him into the seats where several Gamecocks football players watched. Fredrick’s teammates soon joined the celebratory scrum.

“I know you all don’t pay, but if you did, you’d gotten your money’s worth tonight,” Horn said, addressing reporters. “We were fortunate to get the ball last, make the last play and come out on top.”

Calathes led Florida with 20 points. However, only two of those came in the final 11 minutes as the Gators watched their lead shrink.

Downey finished with 20 points and Fredrick 15 for South Carolina, which defeated the Gators for the first time since the 2006 regular season.

Florida got back in the national rankings this week – the SEC’s only representative in the Top 25 – due in part to its long win streak which looked like it would continue.

Evaldus Baniulis’ fourth and final 3 got the Gamecocks within 62-60. But then Parsons answered with a 3 of his own and Walter Hodge extended the margin with an inside basket.

Calathes looked as if he had saved the day with his reverse from beneath the basket with 35.4 seconds to go to make it 69-64.

Baniulis had 12 points, all on 3-pointers.

Parsons had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Gators, who’ll head to Vanderbilt on Sunday.

Donovan, two national titles under his belt, took a philosophical approach to his latest loss, saying it will help his young club later on. “There’s an experience that these guys have got to go through that’s new to us,” he said.

Florida looked spotty throughout.

The Gators ended with 18 turnovers, nearly double the Gamecocks’ 10. South Carolina caused many of them, finishing with 11 steals, three each by Downey and Holmes.

Donovan said his players will improve from this defeat, just as they got better after losing to Florida State in early December before taking off on the win streak.

“They’re learning on the job and getting better in some of those experiences,” he said.