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MBB: South Carolina defeats Texas A&M with second-half comeback

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS MEN'S BASKETBALL

South Carolina came back from an early deficit to beat Texas A&M 84-77.

The game followed a familiar script for the Gamecocks. In the first half, the Aggies couldn’t miss, shooting almost 55 percent from the floor and using a 14-3 run to take control of the game. The Aggies led by as much as 13, as the Gamecocks were disorganized on both ends of the court.

South Carolina started to get back in the game with a strong finish to the half, but still trailed 42-35 at the break. It then chipped away at Texas A&M’s lead in the first four minutes of the half. Tre Campbell made a layup, and then hit a three to tie the game at 50, the first tie of the game. TJ Starks missed a layup, and Hassani Gravett outran everybody for a layup and South Carolina’s first lead of the game.

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Chris Gillespie

Texas A&M scored the next five points to reclaim the lead, and the teams went back and forth as South Carolina made eight of ten shots. Campbell made another three with 9:36 left to put South Carolina ahead for good. Starks made a free throw, and then A.J. Lawson got open in the corner for three. Starks added a layup, but Lawson made a free throw and then hit another three. Chris Silva scored the next four points on an angry dunk and a pair of free throws to cap South Carolina’s version of the 14-3 run and give it a 72-62 lead.

“When you hits 16 threes it hides some things that we didn’t do well, particularly defense,” Frank Martin said. “In the second half we put up a fight. We didn’t put up a fight in the first half.”

Texas A&M was able to give the game some drama in the final minute, taking advantage of missed free throws and getting the lead down to six as South Carolina struggled to hold onto the ball.

South Carolina made a season-high 16 threes on 31 attempts, tying the school record for threes in a game. It was the fourth time in the last five games it has made double digit threes and shot better than 50 percent. Lawson made a career-high six threes in just seven attempts, mostly from the corner. Gravett made 4-7 from three, Campbell added three, and Felipe Haase made two.

“I didn’t think we challenged enough, but when you’ve got Silva and we’re playing small, you’ve got to help with the post. He’s such a factor,” Billy Kennedy said. “When you’ve got to help on him so much it leaves guys open.”

The strong shooting did not carry over to the foul line, where South Carolina was just 14-22. Gravett, normally an 84 percent shooter, was just 2-6, and it took Silva going a perfect 7-7 from the line to make the numbers decent.

Lawson finished with 23 points, two off his career-high. He also had seven rebounds and five assists with just two turnovers.

“He’s talented,” Kennedy said. “He can do a lot of different things. You look at his stat line and it’s all the way across.”

Silva was dominant again, going for 22 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals and two assists. He played tremendous defense and the attention he drew inside allowed the Gamecocks’ shooters to get open looks.

“Chris Silva is playing like a hoss,” Martin said. “It’s creating so much attention, and we understand now how to play around him, so it’s creating a lot of opportunities for other guys.”

Notes:

There was an uproar before the game when it was revealed on Twitter that Gravett had cut his hair. He added to the intrigue when he tweeted back that the picture was Photoshopped. It was not not, and he did in fact cut his hair. “That thing had gotten really ugly. Thank god!” Martin said, laughing. … Texas A&M shot an even 50 percent for the game. … Savion Flagg had 24 for Texas A&M. Wendell Mitchell scored 20, including the first eight points of the game. … Martin played the role of SID in his postgame press conference, and delivered the speech to the media perfectly. … Keyshawn Bryant had a rough game. He was scoreless on 0-6 shooting and had just two rebounds and an assist in 15 minutes. … Maik Kotsar managed to be worse, going scoreless in 20 minutes with just one rebound. He was 0-2 from the floor and 0-2 from the line. … Campbell led South Carolina with six assists. South Carolina had 19 assists on 27 baskets. … Announced attendance was 13,473. … South Carolina’s next game is Tuesday against Ole Miss.

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