Hogs collapse in Columbia, blow 13-point lead in loss to Gamecocks

By: Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, February 9, 2019
Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford looks for his shot during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Columbia, S.C.
Photo by Allen Sharpe, Spurs and Feathers
Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford looks for his shot during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Columbia, S.C.

— South Carolina freshmen A.J. Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant live together as roommates. And they are getting to know what the other one is getting ready to do on the court.

That connection helped the Gamecocks (12-11, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) overcome a 13-point second half deficit and beat Arkansas 77-65 on Saturday.

The Gamecocks remain the SEC's biggest surprise in fourth place after going 5-8 in nonconference play.

Lawson and Bryant scored 31 of South Carolina's 46 second-half points. Lawson started things with back-to-back 3-pointers after Arkansas went up 50-37 with 15:30 to go.

Bryant then added some slashing drives. And when Lawson found Bryant soaring for an alley-oop, the Gamecocks were up 59-54 with 8:45 left and Colonial Life Arena was as loud as it has been this season.

"When he started doing something, I started doing something," Bryant said.

Arkansas (14-9, 5-5) had one last run, taking a 61-59 lead with six minutes left. But Lawson, Bryant and senior Chris Silva helped South Carolina end the game on an 18-4 run. The Gamecocks made 16 of their last 22 shots.

"They did a good job of attacking us," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "And we had a few guys who were spent."

Jalen Harris led Arkansas with 17 points, while Mason Jones added 15 points.

With Jones' early 3-pointer, Arkansas has hit a 3-pointer in each of its last 1,000 games, the fifth-longest streak in the country. UNLV is tops at 1,067 games.

TURNOVERS

Arkansas forced 21 turnovers and had 13 steals but South Carolina neutralized its poor ball-handling by making 10 of 15 3-pointers.

Lawson and Bryant were like freshmen in one way. Lawson turned the ball over four times and Bryant had five turnovers.

"We didn't hold our head down about the turnovers. It happens," Bryant said.

South Carolina's season high is 22 turnovers against Florida. The Gamecocks won that one, too.

GAFFORD GHOSTS

Daniel Gafford, the SEC's fifth-leading scorer at 16.9 points a game, had just a season-low eight points Saturday.

Gafford got into foul trouble in the first half, playing less than five minutes. But in his 17 second-half minutes he had just four points.

"I don't think he ever got in rhythm," Anderson said.

BIG PICTURE

Arkansas: The Razorbacks started the day ranked No. 60 in the NCAA's new NET rankings, which is replacing the RPI as a tool to choose at-large NCAA Tournament teams. This loss will drop them. Arkansas is out of most projected brackets, but usually land near the bubble in either the first four or next four out. The Razorbacks best nonconference win was a home victory over Indiana.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are trying hard to make an intriguing at-large NCAA Tournament case. A 5-8 nonconference record usually is a killer, but the Gamecocks are fourth in the SEC and if they can get through the rest of the league season with only one or two more losses should at least be discussed as a bubble team. The NCAA's new NET rankings don't like them. They are 111th and their best nonconference win is over 153rd ranked Coastal Carolina. The key for South Carolina may be to stay in the SEC's top four and get a double bye in the league tournament so only three wins are needed for the automatic NCAA bid.

UP NEXT

Arkansas: The Razorbacks head to Missouri on Tuesday.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks get a shot at the biggest win they can get as they play Wednesday at No. 1 Tennessee.

South Carolina 77, Arkansas 65 - FINAL

South Carolina guard A.J. Lawson scored a game-high 24 points and Arkansas blew a 13-point second-half lead to fall to 5-5 in SEC play.

The Gamecocks scored the final 10 points of the game over a two-minute, 55-second span to snap the Razorbacks' four-game conference winning streak. Keyshawn Bryant and Chris Silva also combined for 33 points on 11-of-16 from the floor.

Jalen Harris scored a team-high 17 points on 16 shots, Mason Jones added 15 and Isaiah Joe finished with 11. Daniel Gafford had eight points and five rebounds. Harris and Jones each had five turnovers as well.

We will have more from today's game later on WholeHogSports.com.

South Carolina 67, Arkansas 65 - 3:10 left

We've got a back-and-forth game on our hands late. Jalen Harris was credited for a bucket just before the final media timeout. Officials ruled South Carolina goaltended Harris' layup. He now has a career-high 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

A.J. Lawson has 14 of his game-high 22 since the break and Keyshawn Bryant has 13 of his 15 point after halftime. They've been enormous for Frank Martin of late.

South Carolina 59, Arkansas 57 - 7:51 left

South Carolina's went on a 22-4 run fueled by A.J. Lawson and a lack of composure on Arkansas' part to grabbed what was a five-point lead before Isaiah Joe canned his third 3 of the game.

Gamecocks are 9-of-17 from the floor in the second half, 5-of-7 from deep and have turned the ball over just three times. Meanwhile, for Arkansas, Jalen Harris has taken a team-high 12 shots today. The Razorbacks are 1-3 this season when Harris takes more than 10 shots. The only win was Georgia on Jan. 29.

Arkansas 50, South Carolina 49 - 11:29 left

The Gamecocks are on a 12-0 run over 3:25 and 13-2 run spanning the last 4:20. Arkansas hasn't scored since Adrio Bailey's dunk. Daniel Gafford was also hit with his third foul and is sitting as SC picks up steam.

Arkansas has not had an answer for A.J. Lawson at all today. He has a game-high 17 points and nine since the break. Gamecocks are 4-of-6 from deep since halftime. Arkansas, again, unable to build on a double-digit lead and put teams away. It's become a troublesome trend.

Out of the timeout, Mason Jones was fouled shooting a 3 in front of the Razorbacks' bench and will be at the line following the under-12 media timeout. Jones has a team-high 13 points today.

Arkansas 50, South Carolina 37 - 15:09 left

Arkansas has opened the second half as well as anyone could have asked for. The Razorbacks' starters made 5 of 6 shots and both of its triple tries and have ballooned their lead to 13.

Adrio Bailey, prior to the media timeout, dunked all over Maik Kotsar. Seriously, it was filthy. Arkansas also has buckets from Gafford and Harris and 3-pointers from Joe and Jones.

South Carolina has now turned the ball over 18 times. This frenetic pace certainly favors the Razorbacks. Arkansas has to put its foot on South Carolina's throat now. We'll see if it happens.

Arkansas 35, South Carolina 31 - Halftime

The Razorbacks led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but will carry a four-point lead into the break. South Carolina made a nice push late and got big shots from A.J. Lawson and Maik Kotsar with 29 seconds left.

Jalen Harris and Mason Jones each scored eight first-half points, and four others - Bailey, Gafford, Embery-Simpson, Chaney - pitched in four points. Gafford sat the final 15-plus minutes with foul trouble. Isaiah Joe is 1-of-5 from deep so far.

South Carolina is fairly fortunate to only be down four at halftime considering it turned the ball over 15 times on 40 first-half possessions. Three Gamecocks players finished the half with three turnovers. Lawson leads South Carolina with eight points and Chris Silva has seven (5/6 FT) and six rebounds. SC was 5-of-7 from distance in the first half.

The Razorbacks did not shoot the ball well before halftime (12/32), but thrived in transition - 16 points - off the Gamecocks' turnovers. We'll see how the game changes now with Gafford re-entering the lineup in the second half.

Arkansas 30, South Carolina 25 - 3:01 left first half

A.J. Lawson was left open for a pair of corner 3s in front of the Arkansas bench and buried them, cutting the Razorbacks' lead essentially in half. Mike Anderson calls for time. The Gamecocks are now 5-of-6 from deep today.

Arkansas 30, South Carolina 19 - 4:16 left first half

The Gamecocks have now turned the ball over 15 times in the first half at home. That equates to a turnover rate of 47 percent to this point.

Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones each have two steals today, and Adrio Bailey leads the team with three. Razorbacks have scored 16 points off those SC turnovers. They are looking to push and run any chance they get.

Arkansas 25, South Carolina 14 - 7:47 left first half

Razorbacks are getting good contributions from its bench bigs today. Reggie Chaney has a bucket and a blocked shot on Maik Kotsar, and Gabe Osabuohien has played admirably defensively. He's taken at least one charge and deflected a potential entry pass to Chris Silva.

Arkansas obviously prefers this style of game - pushing the pace and getting good looks in early offense. South Carolina looks less than comfortable doing so. Also have to credit Arkansas' matchup zone. It's given the Gamecocks fits so far. SC is 3-of-11 from the floor to this point and has 10 turnovers.

Mason Jones has a team-high eight points.

Arkansas 14, South Carolina 10 - 11:57 left first half

Keyshawn Embery-Simpson has all of Arkansas' points since the last media timeout. He hit a pair of tough shots and is 2-of-3 from the floor so far. He missed his first 3-point attempt of the game.

Five of the Gamecocks' 10 points have come at the line. SC bigs Maik Kotsar and Felipe Haase have the team's only traditional field goals. Haase knocked down a 3-pointer in the corner prior to the timeout.

Arkansas 10, South Carolina 3 - 15:23 left first half

Razorbacks are off to a great start. Mason Jones buried his first two 3-pointers of the day, pushing Arkansas' streak of consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer to 1,000 games. He has six points.

Daniel Gafford was also off to a strong start with two buckets in the first four minutes, but he picked up his second foul to take us to the first media timeout. He'll now sit for a large majority of the remainder of the first half.

Ten possessions into the game, South Carolina does not have a made field goal. The Gamecocks have turned the ball over five times and are 0/3 from the floor. Good start defensive for the Razorbacks on the road.

Pregame

Arkansas' starting lineup: Jalen Harris, Isaiah Joe, Mason Jones, Adrio Bailey and Daniel Gafford.

Daniel Gafford is averaging 18 points and eight rebounds per game during the Razorbacks' four-game SEC win streak. He's pouring in 25.5 points and 8.5 boards in the last two games against LSU and Vanderbilt on 20-of-29 from the floor. Isaiah Joe is also shooting 10-of-18 from 3-point range in the last two wins. They have been great of late, and we'll see if they can continue that level of play today.

A couple of storylines to watch: Arkansas is sitting at 999 consecutive games played with at least one made 3-pointer. The streak began Jan. 11, 1989, and Arkansas can become the fifth program to reach 1,000 straight games with a triple today. Joe is also four 3-pointers away from tying Rotnei Clarke's freshman program record of 83 3-pointers.

South Carolina's starters: Keyshawn Bryant, Tre Campbell, Maik Kotsar, A.J. Lawson and Chris Silva.

The Gamecocks currently sit alone in fourth place in the SEC standings, and their only losses in league play are to teams above them - Tennessee, Kentucky and LSU. South Carolina is 3-1 in home SEC games, including a win over Auburn on Jan. 22, but is just 7-5 in Colonial Life Arena on the season.

Frank Martin's teams have, in the past, tended to play on the slow side, but South Carolina actually plays at a faster pace than Arkansas this season, according to KenPom, averaging 71.5 possessions per game. Arkansas ranks 45th in that regard. However, Arkansas is second and SC third in terms of pace in conference-only games. The Gamecocks shoot the 3 fairly well in league play (35.3 percent) and get to the line a lot. Chris Silva gets to the line more than almost any player in America. Last season, he shot more free throws than field goal attempts, and his free throw rate (FTA/FGA) this season is 92.5 in SEC games.

Running updates by Scottie Bordelon

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