South Carolina shocks Vanderbilt, 77-73

NASHVILLE-- Devan Downey scored 26 points, including 22 of them in the second half, as South Carolina overcame a 10-point deficit to stun Vanderbilt, 77-73. The game marked senior Jermaine Beal's final appearance at Memorial Gym as a Commodore. Vanderbilt also may have lost the services of frequent starter Brad Tinsley due to a leg injury.

Leading 35-27 at the half, Vanderbilt built its lead to 10 with 19:49 to play on an A.J. Ogilvy basket. However, over the next eight minutes Vanderbilt was unable to add to its lead as the Commodores led only 41-35 with 12 minutes remaining in the game. After Vandy pulled ahead by nine with 9:28 remaining, South Carolina went on a 16-0 run which was sparked by two Downey 3-pointers that gave the Gamecocks a 64-57 lead with six minutes to go. An A.J. Ogilvy free throw ended the Commodore scoring drought at the 5:20 mark.

Vanderbilt rallied to tie the score at 69 with a Beal 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining. But Downey answered with another trey to give the Gamecocks back a 3-point edge. A free throw by Sam Muldrow gave USC a 73-69 edge with 41 seconds to play. Vanderbilt twice cut the South Carolina lead to two in the final seconds but a dunk by Stephen Spinella with two seconds to play sealed the upset for the Gamecocks after the Commodores were unable to foul in the final seconds.

"We just didn't play well down that stretch. We missed some easy shots as well and it cost us the game," said a disappointed Ogilvy after the game. Ogilvy, who sat out much of the second half due to foul problems, was one of the players who missed what appeared to be an easy shot.

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings attributed South Carolina's big second half run to his own team's lack of mental readiness, "We got tentative. I don't know if we thought they'd roll over and play dead or whatever. We were not right mentally from the start."

Junior guard Brad Tinsley was injured midway through the second half when Festus Ezeli fell on to Tinsley's leg. Tinsley had earlier fallen himself during a battle under the South Carolina basket.

The Commodores were led in scoring by Beal with 21 and Ogilvy with 15. In addition to Downey, the Gamecocks also got 20 points from Muldrow. Vanderbilt was outrebounded 33-28 and is now 8-6 this season when it does not win the rebounding margin.

Vanderbilt falls to 23-7 (12-4 SEC). On Friday in the SEC Tournament the Commodores will play the winner of Thursday's Georgia-Arkansas matchup. South Carolina improves to 15-15 (6-10 SEC). The all-time series between the Commodores and Gamecocks is now tied to 23-23.


Jermaine Beal and family. (VM/Stan Jones)

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