South Carolina improved to 2-0 in the SEC with a 79-68 win over Texas A&M. Duane Notice and Rakym Felder led South Carolina with 19 points each.
The first half could have been a disaster for the Gamecocks. The Aggies were on fire offensively, shooting 70 percent from the floor and 71 percent from three. They also dominated on the glass, nearly doubling up the Gamecocks 20-11. Meanwhile the Gamecocks couldn't buy a bucket at the start of the game, missing 16 of their first 19 shots.
"We weren't very good defensively on rotations," Frank Martin said. "Some of our young guys rotated off the wrong people."
But Texas A&M turned the ball over a whopping 15 times in the first half for 16 South Carolina points, keeping South Carolina in the game. A late 8-0 run even gave South Carolina a 34-33 lead with 90 seconds left in the half.
That late surge carried over into the second half. A three by Notice, plus baskets by PJ Dozier and Chris Silva gave the Gamecocks the first seven points of the half. Felder then scored five straight and Notice capped off a 15-5 run with another three to put the gamecocks up 51-43.
Texas A&M battled back behind the hot shooting of DJ Hoag, who scored a game-high 25 points and made his first seven three-pointers. A three by Tonny Trocha-Morelos gave Texas A&M a 59-58 lead with seven minutes left, its final lead of the game.
Frank martin called a timeout, and the Gamecocks answered. Sindarius Thornwell scored off an offensive rebounds, and then consecutive Aggie turnovers led to five straight Gamecock points and a 7-0 run. The teams then traded baskets before Thornwell scored on a putback. Dozier then buried a three from the corner as the shot clock expired to cap a 14-2 run and put the Gamecocks up 72-61 with 3:21 left.
Thornwell, who scored 16 points, struggled with his shot in the first half, but as he has done all season, he made plays when South Carolina needed them. Beginning with his go-ahead layup with 6:23 to play, Thornwell scored 11 of South Carolina's final 21 points during the deciding run. He also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, five in the second half.
"You see that look in his eye when he's ready to attack the basket," Notice said. "We do a good job of finding him and putting him in position and coach does a great job of calling plays for him to get him open cracks."
The Gamecocks also toughened up on the glass in the second half, outrebounding the Aggies 19-17, though still losing the overall battle 37-30. Felder was the only reserve to score for the Gamecocks, but his 19 points were still more than the entire Aggie bench. The Gamecocks committed just six turnovers compared to the Aggies' 25, and scored 30 points off those turnovers.
"Our initial hit was pretty good," Martin said. "Sometimes we got them sped up."