Silva's late dunk lifts South Carolina over Florida, 71-69
Gamecocks trailed by as many as 14 in the second half of comeback win
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Chris Silva’s dunk following a full-court pass with 2.5 seconds remaining gave South Carolina a 71-69 victory over Florida in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams Saturday night.
Silva finished with 18 points – all in the second half – and helped the Gamecocks (6-7, 1-0) overcome a 14-point deficit.
None of his shots was as big as his last one. Silva walled off Florida’s Kevarrius Hayes and caught a 90-foot pass from Felipe Haase for the winner.
The Gators (8-5, 0-1) failed to make a basket in the final 7:17, missing 11 of their final 12 shots and the last eight.
Hassani Gravett led the Gamecocks with 22 points. Silva made 5 of 6 shots and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line.
The game looked like it would go to overtime after Hayes hit a free throw with 3.5 seconds remaining that made it 69-all.
It was one of the biggest collapses in coach Mike White’s tenure at Florida. Keyshawn Bryant had a lot to do with it. Bryant made three consecutive buckets late in the second half, helping the Gamecocks dig out of a 10-point hole with about 8 minutes to play. Bryant had a steal and a dunk, a layup and a jumper to cap a 9-0 run that tied the game at 65.
South Carolina took its first lead since scoring the first point of the game on Silva’s dunk with 3:39 remaining.
Noah Locke led Florida with 17 points. KeVaughn Allen and Andrew Nembhard added 10 apiece.
The Gators led by as many as 13 points in the first half thanks mostly to six 3-pointers. But they went cold down the stretch – much like they did late in the game – and allowed South Carolina to whittle the lead to 34-32 on Maik Kotsar’s putback with 23 seconds remaining. Allen answered on the other end with a driving layup, making it a four-point game at the break.
It was a sloppy start, with the teams combining to miss 36 shots and turning the ball over 26 times.
> Carolina’s stout defense held the Gators without a field goal the final 7:17 of the game.
> The Gamecocks shot 52 percent (13-for-25) in the second half, while holding Florida to 33 percent from the field (9-for-27).
> Senior Chris Silva sat for most of the first half due to foul trouble – he scored all 18 of his points the final 20 minutes of the game.
> Silva was 8-for-9 at the free throw line, marking his third-straight game with eight or more makes at the charity stripe.
> Redshirt senior Hassani Gravett led all scorers with a game-high 22, one-point shy of tying a career high.
> He finished 4-for-7 from behind the arc, marking his seventh game with two or more 3s in the 2018-19 season.
> Freshman Keyshawn Bryant made three straight buckets in crunch time to tie the game at 65 all with 4:39 remaining – he finished with eight points and five rebounds.
> Graduate transfer guard Tre Campbell played a career-high 37 minutes. He hit a pair of 3s and led the team with four assists.
> Tonight’s victory in Gainesville is Carolina’s second straight, marking its first back-to-back wins at Florida since 1997-98.
The Gamecocks are back at home next week for a pair of league contests, first hosting Mississippi State on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Carolina then welcomes Missouri to Colonial Life Arena on Saturday, Jan. 12. The game will tip at 1 p.m. ET on SEC Network.