South Carolina head basketball coach Darrin Horn applauded the fans at the end of the game, as his now recognized 6th man helped the head coach inspire a second half manhandling of the Florida Gators (17-7, 6-4).
After trailing by 4 points, 35-31, the Gamecocks came out with energy and defensive intensity. The result was a 46-36 second half advantage to South Carolina (14-9, 5-4) and a 77-71 SEC victory.
At the half the team was challenged to compete harder and just after the half Brandis Raley-Ross was threatened to shoot or suffer the consequences. Raley-Ross with 3 points at the half, finished with 20 points to go along with his 2 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals. Devan Downey was just Devan, shooting and scooping to 24 points (4 steals, 2 assists and 4 rebounds).
Being at home allowed the energy of the crowd to support a poor shooting night by the Gamecocks, 38.2%, as they out hustled the Gators who shot 56% for the game, 68% in the first half. The 3-point shot caused increased Garnet Army cheers that seemed to rattle the Gators at times during the middle of the second half as the host team took control of the game. South Carolina collected 20 points off 20 Florida turnovers, while allowing only 8 points on just 6 turnovers.
The Gamecocks were outscored 22-8 in the paint, were outscored 10-2 on fast breaks, but the turnovers created by an aggressive defense gave the Gamecocks 18 more shots than the Gators (68-50) and the aggressive penetration offense also allowed the Cocks to get to the free throw line 24 times, converting on 19 (79.2%), while Billy Donovan's club was only 10-23 (43.5%).
South Carolina's version of post utilization found Sam Muldrow working the baseline short corners and high post to find 7-13 shooting for 16 points and 8 rebounds.
Erving Walker had a solid night for Florida with 20 points. Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons had a double-double, 11pts/15rebs and 13pts/11/rebs, respectively.
But the scoring combination of Downey, Raley-Ross and Muldrow (60 points), primarily in the second half, was too much for the Gators when you add the hostile crowd, missed free throws and turnovers.
The unsung hero for the Gamecocks would be Lakeem Jackson, who in contruction worker style piled up 6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, giving him a direct hand in 15 Carolina points. His third assist to Ramon Galloway for the 3, placed USC in front for good 56-53 with just over 6 minutes to play. After missing its first 10 3-point shots the Gamecocks went 6-12 down the stretch to hold of the Gators.
The victory continues to protect the house that Horn has renovated with excitement, energy and a young winning tradition. In the Colonial Life Arena South Carolina is 10-2 this season and 27-5 overall under Coach Horn.
A former basketball player and coach with over a decade of national experience, who later founded player development programs before expanding his knowledge and experiences to media services and outlets, Duane "The Shot Doctor" Everett can be heard every weekday in Columbia as a host and analyst on ESPN Radio Columbia's "The Zone" on 93.1 FM from 3-6 p.m.
Other entries such as this one can be found on Everett's blog, "The Shot Doctor".
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