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Jan. 7, 2015

Final Stats | Quotes | USATSI Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif

Team 1st 2nd Total
Florida (7-6, 1-0 SEC) 31 41 72
South Carolina (9-3, 0-1 SEC) 34 34 68
Coach Martin
Mindaugus Kacinas & Tyrone Johnson

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two defensive powers collided Wednesday night in the SEC opener, and a shooting slump in the second half for South Carolina (9-4, 0-1 SEC) would be the difference in a 72-68 loss to Florida (7-6, 1-0 SEC). Tyrone Johnson led the team with 20 points, but the Gamecocks would make only eight field goals in the second half to see their seven-game win streak snapped.

The Gamecocks fought through early adversity in the opening half as Florida’s full-court pressure on defense forced turnovers and gave the Gators a quick 17-6 lead just six minutes in. The strong start was buoyed by an 11-0 run that broke up a 6-all tie. Adding to the issues was the quick exit from sophomore guard Sindarius Thornwell, who played just the first six minutes before leaving with foul trouble.

Needing a way to get back into contention, Carolina would turn to its nationally ranked defense to slow down Florida. After a layup from Marcus Stroman broke up the run, the Gamecocks held the visitors without a point for more than four minutes while embarking on an 11-0 run of their own to tie it back up at 17 with 9:33 to play. The rest of the half would be closely contested, with the final four minutes played as a one-possession game.

With Florida’s defense locking down Duane Notice and Thornwell on the bench, Tyrone Johnson picked up the scoring slack with an electrifying half. He led all scorers with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting that included a pair of three-point plays off tough layups. With the game tied at 31 and under a minute to play before halftime, Notice would hit on his first field goal of the game for Carolina’s first lead of the game, 34-31 at the break.

The strong end to the half would not carry over into the final 20 minutes for the Gamecock offense. After a jumper from Laimonas Chatkevicius with 18:34 to play, Carolina would make just one field goal in 11 attempts for the next nine minutes to see its 38-32 lead turn into a 51-46 deficit. Free throws would be the team’s primary weapon in that stretch and for the half in general, as it would make 16-of-17 in the second half alone and 23-of-27 for the game.

Despite the struggles from the field, Carolina would still lead through the first eight minutes of the half. Florida’s Michael Frazier would tie the game at 44 with 11:37 to go, but the game would turn after a flagrant foul was called on Chatkevicius. The call led to a pair of free throws to give Florida a lead it would never give back. It scored the next seven points and kept the Gamecocks at a two-possession deficit until the waning seconds of the game.

It would not be until the final 30 seconds that Carolina’s offense was able to find paydirt consistently, with a pair of 3s from Mindaugas Kacinas and a layup by Johnson. Despite not making a field goal for the final 3:19 of the game, Florida countered with a clutch performance from the free throw line to squash any comeback attempts, making eight straight to give the home side no chance at the tie.

Aside from the three straight made field goals in the last minute of regulation, Carolina would make just 5-of-21 attempts in the final half. The missed shots were exacerbated by a strong rebounding effort from Florida, who allowed just 23 to the Gamecocks for the game.


The Gamecocks made just one field goal in a nine-minutes stretch of the second half (18:24 to 9:23) as Florida outscored them 19-8 in that span to take a 51-46 lead.

KEY STAT Tonight was the first time in a five-game stretch that the Gamecocks were outrebounded, as Florida held a 37-23 advantage. It is just the second time all season that Carolina has not won the battle on the boards.


  • Tyrone Johnson recorded his second 20-point game of the season, the first since scoring a career-high 21 against Baylor.
  • South Carolina shot 85.2 percent at the free throw line, the best all season in games with ten or more made free throws. Five different players had perfect nights, with Johnson making all nine for a personal career high.
  • Tonight was the first game where the opposition outscored Carolina in the paint. Florida had a 26-22 advantage with a defense that stifled a Gamecock offense that averaged over 35 points in the paint through the first 11 games.

QUOTABLE South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin

Opening Statement
You can’t lose at home. Period. You ever want to be any good, you have to be able to hold serve at home. If you start losing home games, you’re not going to be very good. We were up 38-32 at one point and we missed four straight lay-ups. They were missing and we just couldn’t convert. You have to give them credit, they went 5-for-19 (on 3s), but three of themwere bang, bang, bang and that was right when they made their run.


The opening week of conference action will finish in Oxford on Saturday, as the Gamecocks travel to Ole Miss. The Rebels lead the all-time series 15-17, but are 11-1 at home against Carolina dating back to 1960. The Gamecocks were swept in last season’s two meetings, but only by a combined five points.