Feb. 10, 2015
|SCORE BY PERIODS|
|Missouri (7-17, 1-10 SEC)||30||30||60|
|S. Carolina (12-11, 3-8 SEC)||30||35||65|
|Brian Steele & Sindarius Thornwell|
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Gamecocks reversed their fortune in late-game situations Tuesday night, making all eight of their shots (six free throws, two field goals) in the final three minutes to hold off Missouri (7-17, 1-10 SEC) in a 65-60 win. Playing with a shortened roster of guards with the absence of Justin McKie and Marcus Stroman, Carolina (12-11, 3-8) used 32 bench points to keep the Tigers from completing the comeback.
The Tigers would score the first basket of the game, but Carolina would score the game’s next 10 points to force a timeout with 14:18 still to play. Missouri would have a six-minute scoring drought after its initial basket, broken only by a pair of free throws at the 12:50 mark.
Though it would have more turnovers than field goals made through the first ten minutes of the game, Missouri would trail by just two, 14-12, with plenty of time left to play. The Gamecocks would open up a two-possession lead soon after thanks to Duane Notice’s third 3-pointer of the night. The sophomore had not made three from deep in a game since a Dec. 19 matchup with Clemson.
Missouri’s offense heated up to help it hang around as the half winded down. It would make five straight field goals to make it a 22-19 with eight minutes still to play. The Gamecocks were just 2-of-9 in that same stretch, but were able to maintain the lead until the Tigers knotted it up at 26 with 4:38 to go. Carolina made the next two baskets to break the deadlock, but went scoreless for the final three minutes of the half to head to the break tied at 30.
A 1-of-7 start from the field in the first five minutes of the second half for Carolina would give Missouri a 34-32 lead, but an 8-0 run gave the Gamecocks the advantage for good with 13:38 to play. The run was fueled by tremendous hustle from Michael Carrera, who had a pair of key offensive rebounds that led to second-chance baskets.
Though the visitors would never be far behind, the Gamecocks were able to stay ahead thanks to key baskets from Brian Steele and Sindarius Thornwell. Steele would hit a 3 to give Carolina a 43-37 lead with 12 minutes still to play, and the former walk-on finished with eight important points all in the final 20 minutes to tie his career high.
The lead would grow as large as 10 points, but it would not last long as Missouri quickly cut it to five points, 52-47 after forcing turnovers on three straight possessions. Tyrone Johnson’s two free throws broke a three-minute scoring drought and moved the lead to seven.
Thornwell would hit his biggest basket of the night with 2:24 to play, as the Tigers snuck within three, 54-51. His 3 moved the Gamecocks ahead by two possessions, and was even bigger after the Tigers hit a basket on their next possession.
Missouri finished with back-to-back 3s in the final 15 seconds, but six straight free throws made would ensure the Gamecocks would comfortably leave with their second straight home win of the conference season.
After Missouri cut the lead to three, 54-51, Sindarius Thornwell hit a spot-up 3 to push the lead back to two possessions with 2:24 left in the game. The Tigers would not get closer than four points for the rest of the game.
KEY STAT With both teams playing with short benches, the Gamecock reserves outscored their Missouri counterparts 32-19. The 32 points are the most in the conference season, the previous high was 27 at Auburn. It is the fourth time the bench has scored 30 points or more in a game, and Carolina is 4-0 when that happens.
- Sophomore guard Justin McKie did not play vs. Missouri due to concussion-related symptoms. Freshman guard Marcus Stroman did not play vs. Missouri due to an illness.
- The 25 3-point attempts are the most by the Gamecocks this season, and are the most in a single game dating all the way back to a Nov. 19, 2012 matchup with Rider. Duane Notice and Brian Steele each set a new career high in 3-pointers attempted, with 11 and six, respectively.
- The Gamecocks committed just ten turnovers for the game while forcing 15. It is the fourth time all season that the team has committed ten turnovers or fewer. In the 13 games where the team had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, Carolina has a 10-3 record.
- The ten steals in the game were the most for Carolina in the conference season. Neither the Gamecocks nor their opponents have reached double figures in the category since recording 10 in a win over Iowa State on Jan. 5. Four different players had two steals.
South Carolina travels to face top-ranked Kentucky on Saturday in a 2 p.m. ET matchup set to be broadcast on ESPN. It marks Carolina’s first game in Lexington since Feb. 2013. The meeting is the second between the two schools this season, as the Wildcats posted a 58-43 win over Carolina on Jan. 24, 2015, in Columbia.
TWEETS OF THE GAME