|Go Long! Fredrick Last Second Shot Beats UF|
On the night when Carolina introduced the "Garnet Army," fans were treated to quite a battle, and the biggest win of Darrin Horn's young Gamecock career. The Gamecocks (13-4, 2-2 SEC) and #24 Florida (16-3, 3-1 SEC) engaged in a back and forth game. When it seemed like all hope was lost, Mike Holmes rifled a full-court pass to Zam Fredrick for a game-ending layup and a 70-69 win.
"You saw a great college basketball game," said Horn. "We were really fortunate to get the ball last and make the last play."
Leading 69-68 with 3.3 seconds left, Florida's Chandler Parsons stepped to the line for a one-and-one with a chance to ice the game. He missed the front end, and Holmes grabbed the rebound. He immediately turned and fired a pass to Fredrick, who was racing down court. Fredrick got behind Florida's Dan Werner, and laid the ball in the basket as the horn sounded.
"When you get in that situation it's rare that you have something perfect [to call]," said Horn. "Did we draw it up like that? No we didn't. Those two guys made a terrific play."
"It was a great play by Holmes," said Florida coach Billy Donovan.
Holmes and Fredrick confirmed that the play was designed beforehand. Two words were all it took to set up the play.
"When [Parsons] missed, I just took off running," Fredrick said. "[Holmes] hit me with a perfect pass in stride, and I just laid it in. The only communication was, ‘Go long.' I just did what he told me and we made a play."
"We ain't really talked about it," said Holmes, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds. "When we got to the line, I was trying to get [Fredrick's] attention. When I finally did get his attention, I told him, ‘Go long. I'm gonna get this rebound.' And that's what happened."
Anticipating the long outlet pass, Donovan sent Werner back deep. However, Donovan anticipated Downey being on the receiving end of a pass, which may have provided the split second of hesitation needed for Fredrick to find the rim.
"To be honest with you, I was really more concerned with where Downey was lining up," said Donovan. "I wanted to get Walter [Hodge matched up with Downey], and I thought with an older guy [Werner] being back there [we were okay]. I thought that the play worked out perfectly for them, the way the free throw was missed."
"I don't even know who it was guarding me, I just ran," said Fredrick.
Missed free throws set up the thrilling finish. With 13.3 seconds left and a 69-67 lead, Nick Calathes, who led Florida with 20 points, five assists, and five rebounds, also missed the front end of a one-and one. Fredrick, who finished with 15 points, drew a foul on the other end, and had a chance to tie the game with 4.7 seconds left. He bailed out Calathes by missing the second of his two shots, and Parsons, who had 14 points and nine rebounds, got the rebound to seemingly seal the win, setting up Fredrick's redemption.
"After I missed the second free throw, I just kept believing that we were going to get an opportunity to take another shot," Fredrick said.
"Zam has an incredible memory in that he doesn't have one," Horn joked. "He always thinks the next shot is going in."
South Carolina might not have needed Fredrick's heroics if it had not had such a horrendous second half shooting. The Gamecocks made just 9-30 field goals in the half (30%), and had just three field goals over the final 10minutes, including the game winner. The Gamecocks stayed in the game by getting to the line, but failed to fully capitalize, shooting just 64% (16-25) for the game. On the other hand, Florida shot 54% for the game, but also turned the ball over 18 times compared to just 10 for Carolina.
"They're extremely long," said Horn. "They've got a 6'6" point guard [Calathes] standing at the top of that matchup [zone]. I think we got really stagnant."
The thrilling ending capped off a back and forth game. There were nine ties and nine lead changes. Carolina never lead by more than five, and Florida never led by more than seven. That seven point lead came on a layup by Walter Hodge that capped off a 12-5 run that gave Florida a seemingly insurmountable 67-60 lead. Downey, who scored 20 points and dished out four assists, made four straight free throws for the Gamecocks, before Calathes made a reverse layup to make it a two possession game with 35 seconds left. Downey came back and drilled a three pointer to set up the final possessions.
"Devan just went and made some plays for us," Horn said. "He did what all-conference players do."
Sam Muldrow got his first start of the season, in place of Brandis Raley-Ross. Muldrow finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 18 minutes of play.
"We haven't been very good to start games, and we were just trying anything different," said Horn. "I don't know if that was the difference or not, but we got off to a little bit better start."
Evka Baniulis, who had been nearly invisible at times over the last month, came off the bench to provide a big spark. He scored 12 points on 4-7 shooting, and grabbed two rebounds while dishing out two assists. It was his best scoring outing since he scored 12 December 5 against Furman, and most rebounds since he pulled down nine on November 16 against Winthrop. Baniulis has a tendency to disappear from games if he makes a quick mistake or misses a shot, but he hit his first two three-point attempts Wednesday night.
"I thought he was phenomenal tonight," Horn said. "We really just talked to him today about going out tonight and just playing. Defensively he was great."
Notes: - Attendance was listed at 12, 825, although the actual attendance was shy of that number. The students came out strong, and were vocal throughout the game, and the team high-fived many of the students following the win. "The crowd was phenomenal. Our fans were a big reason that we won this game, led by our student fans," Horn raved.
- Carolina defeated Florida for the first time since beating then sixth-ranked Florida 71-67 on February 8, 2006. Carolina also beat the Gators two weeks earlier 68-62 on January 25.
- 2006 was also the last time Carolina beat two ranked teams in a season (both Florida). Coupled with the win over Baylor, the Gamecocks have accomplished that feat this year.
- The Gamecocks' next game is at home against Ole Miss this Saturday at 8:00. "We've got to come back tomorrow and get to work, and all that other corny coaching stuff you don't want to hear," said Horn.