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January 15, 2014

Gamecocks fall to Aggies

From USC: COLLEGE STATION, Texas - South Carolina (7-9, 0-3 SEC) suffered a 75-67 loss at Texas A&M (12-4, 3-0 SEC) on Wednesday evening in Southeastern Conference play. The Gamecocks led by as many as 11 in the opening half, but the Aggies out-scored Carolina 37-28 in the second half en route to the victory.

Junior guard Tyrone Johnson suffered a broken right foot near the end of the first half and did not play the remainder of the game. After the game Frank Martin said Johnson will miss significant time as it heals.

Foul trouble once again plagued Carolina, with several players' minutes limited due to fouls, especially early in the second half. Senior guard Brenton Williams led the team with 14 points, his eighth-straight double-digit scoring game, while freshman guard Duane Notice added 12 points and five assists. Rookie forward Desmond Ringer set a season high with nine points, and matched a season best with seven rebounds, a team high.

Junior forward Jamal Jones led three Aggies in double figures with 22 points, including a 9-of-12 showing from the free throw line. Texas A&M attempted 41 free throws in the contest, compared to just 22 at the line for Carolina.

The Aggies scored the first basket of the ball game, but the Gamecocks responded with a 10-0 run to lead by eight at the first media timeout of the contest.

Williams added two at the free throw line and sophomore forward Michael Carrera scored his first basket of the game at the 14:39 mark, but A&M climbed to within seven to put the score at 14-7 Carolina with just under 12 minutes to play in the half.

The Gamecocks continued to play aggressive on the offensive end at the midway point. Ringer pulled down an offensive rebound and found Carrera for a wide open 3 from the perimeter. Ringer added a lay-in on the next possession, and the Gamecocks' lead stood at 23-16 with 8:52 showing in the half.

The Aggies would put together a 6-2 run over the course of the next minute and a half and the Carolina lead was just three at 25-22 at the under-eight minute media timeout.

Despite lay-ups from sophomore forward Laimonas Chatkevicius on consecutive possessions, a tip-in from A&M's Davonte Fitzgerald gave the Aggies a 32-31 upperhand with 4:20 remaining in the opening 20 minutes of play.

The teams traded baskets the remainder of the half. A tip-in from Chatkevicius and a pair of free throws from A&M's Shawn Smith saw the Gamecocks lead by one at the break, 39-38. With near a minute to play, Johnson was assisted off the court by the Gamecock athletic training staff, suffering a right foot injury after an awkward step on his foot. He did not return the remainder of the game.

The story of the opening half was a 20-10 rebound advantage for the Gamecocks, while Carolina also held a 20-14 upperhand in points in the paint.

The Gamecocks found themselves in foul trouble early in the second half with Notice, Carrera and sophomore forward Mindaugas Kacinas on the bench with three fouls apiece and freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell with four shortly into the half. A 3 from freshman guard Justin McKie pushed the Gamecocks lead to 50-43 with 15:37 to play.

The Aggies pulled to within two at 53-51 on two free throws from freshman guard Shawn Smith but Carolina held its lead, and Ringer scored his season high ninth point of the contest with 8:02 remaining to push the Carolina lead to 57-54.

South Carolina led the entire second half until two free throws from Jones gave Texas A&M a 58-57 advantage. Smith would hit a 3 from the corner at the shot clock buzzer just moments later, and the Gamecocks called a timeout with 5:51 to play.

The Aggies led by five when Williams hit a long 3 after an offensive rebound and assist from Ringer to keep the score within two at 64-62 Aggies with just over four minutes to play.

The teams matched free throws out of the final media timeout of the contest, but the Aggie lead stood at 73-65 with one minute to play after a layup from junior guard Jordan Green.

Williams hit two from the line with 34 seconds remaining, but Texas A&M held on for the 75-67 victory.

South Carolina returns to Colonial Life Arena to host Ole Miss on Saturday for the 2014 Legends Weekend. Game time is set for 4:30 p.m. ET and the contest will be broadcast on FSN. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to the arena for pre-game festivities honoring the Gamecock men's basketball legends.

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