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Poor shooting, foul trouble haunt Gamecocks in loss to Memphis

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P.J. Dozier looks to drive against Memphis on Friday night
USA Today

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —The South Carolina men’s basketball team dropped a 70-54 decision at Memphis (10-4) Friday night in its final game of 2016.

Three Gamecocks reached double figures in scoring, but a season-low shooting percentage and a season-high 30 fouls stunted the offense. PJ Dozier led the team with 13 points in 24 minutes of action, while Rakym Felder and Justin McKie added 10 points apiece.

Markel Crawford scored a career-high 28 points and Dedric Lawson added 19 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high eight assists to help Memphis beat South Carolina 70-54 on Friday night.

Jimario Rivers added 10 points for Memphis (10-4), which shot 60 percent (9 of 15) in the second half in avenging an 86-78 loss at South Carolina (10-3) last season.

Crawford went 9 of 13 from the field, 10 of 12 from the free-throw line and added six rebounds against a Gamecocks squad that came into the game ranked third nationally in defensive efficiency.

Both teams battled self-inflicted woes in the opening 10 minutes of the game as South Carolina (10-3) shot well from the field but were held back by foul troubles and nine turnovers. Memphis hit just four of its first 17 FG attempts.

A jumper by PJ Dozier made it 15-12 in the Gamecocks’ favor with 11:23 to play, but the Tigers countered with an 11-0 run over the next four minutes for their first lead of the night. Following the Dozier basket, Carolina ended the half just 3-of-14, but took advantage of a Memphis scoring spell late in the period to cut what once was a 10-point deficit down to five points at the buzzer (33-28).

South Carolina was led by six points from Chris Silva and five points from Hassani Gravett and Dozier in the first half, but were unable to keep a consistent lineup on the floor thanks to 13 team fouls that saddled four different players with two fouls in the period.

The Gamecocks were able to trim the Memphis lead back to one possession, 39-38, eight minutes into the second half thanks to a 7-1 run. Memphis struck back with an 11-3 run over the next three minutes to ward off the Gamecock momentum, using five straight missed field goals from South Carolina to maintain the lead.

Foul trouble started to weight heavily on the Gamecocks as the second half wore on. Leading rebounder Chris Silva picked up his fifth foul with six minutes to go, and leading scorer Dozier took a seat as well just two minutes later. The Tigers pulled away late from the free throw line and took its largest lead of the game to the final buzzer.

Memphis won its first game this season against a top-100 RPI opponent. The Tigers (10-4), coming off a 58-54 home loss to SMU on Tuesday, had been 0-4 against top-100 teams this season.

South Carolina senior guard Sindarius Thornwell didn't play for a sixth straight game due to suspension for a violation of athletic department policy.

With his 13 points, PJ Dozier led the Gamecocks in scoring for the fourth time in the last five games and now has scored in double digits for eight straight games.

KEY STAT: Memphis finished the game with 29 made free throws, 14 more than South Carolina attempted for the night. Both the free throws made and attempted (37) are a season high for a Gamecocks’ opponent.

BIG PICTURE: The Gamecocks have now dropped three of their last five games after starting the season 8-0.

UP NEXT: South Carolina opens SEC play Wednesday night at Georgia. The 9-4 Bulldogs have won four of their last five, including a 96-84 decision at Auburn on Thursday in the teams' SEC opener. The game will tip at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU. USC returns to Columbia the following Saturday for a matchup with Texas A&M.

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Maik Kotsar shoots over a Memphis player on Friday night
USA Today

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