Late-game swoon: Razorbacks run out of gas on road

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, February 10, 2019
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe looks to pass the ball during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Columbia, S.C.
Photo by Allen Sharpe, Spurs and Feathers
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe looks to pass the ball during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Columbia, S.C.

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- In the end, it was all South Carolina.

The Gamecocks rallied to beat the University of Arkansas basketball team 77-65 on Saturday before an announced crowd of 12,374 in Colonial Life Arena by dominating at crunch time.

South Carolina outscored the Razorbacks 14-2 in the final 4:13 after Arkansas had tied the game 63-63 on Jalen Harris' jump shot.

"They got a good run going and they took over the momentum," Arkansas sophomore guard Mason Jones said. "They just rode that momentum and took it home.

"They just ran off with it."

The Razorbacks (14-9, 5-5) shot 1 of 5 from the field and had 3 turnovers on their final 8 possessions.

"We couldn't score and then defensively I didn't think we did a good job," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said of the final minutes. "We may have run out of steam. I don't know."

South Carolina 6-9 senior forward Chris Silva scoered 8 of the Gamecocks' final 14 points -- including a jump shot, 2 baskets inside against 6-11 Daniel Gafford and 2 free throws -- and finished with 16.

"Chris had two big-time post-up moves and finished over Daniel Gafford," South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said. "Those are hard shots, and he made them both.

"It was fun for us to stay the course for 40 minutes there."

Before Silva took over late, the Gamecocks (12-11, 7-3) were carried by freshman guard A.J. Lawson and freshman forward Keyshawn Bryant.

Lawson had 24 points, 7 rebounds 3 assists and Bryant had 17 points. Lawson hit 8 of 12 shots and and Bryant 7 of 11.

"They made shots, made plays," Anderson said. "They attacked and made the open shots. We had some breakdowns on defense and they made us pay for it."

South Carolina took the lead for good on Silva's basket with 4:13 left, then kept pulling away by hitting 7 of its last 8 shots.

"We ran our offense the right way," Martin said. "We executed offensively. Our spacing was good. Our decision-making was good. So the ball went in for us."

Martin said the Gamecocks played solid defense, but also were fortunate the Razorbacks' only basket in the final 3:11 was a layup by Harris.

"Coming down the stretch, we were solid with our coverages, but they missed some shots just plain and simple," Martin said. "They had some shots that just didn't drop."

Harris, a sophomore point guard, led Arkansas with 17 points, but he shot 5 of 16 from the field and matched his season-high with 5 turnovers.

Jones had 15 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Gafford, a sophomore forward and projected first-round NBA Draft pick, was limited to 22 minutes because of foul problems and finished with a season-low 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. He shot 4 of 5 from the field, missed his only free throw on a 1-and-1 attempt and had 2 turnovers.

"I don't think he ever got in the rhythm that we needed him to be in," Anderson said of Gafford. "Daniel did a lot of it to himself."

Anderson was asked about Silva's defense on Gafford.

"He's a good player," Anderson said. "But what happened with Dan, I thought a lot was Dan's doing."

Gafford didn't play the final 15:24 of the first half after picking up his second foul, but the Razorbacks led 35-31 at intermission with the help of South Carolina committing 15 turnovers.

The Razorbacks opened the second half with a strong push and took a 50-37 lead with 15:36 left on junior forward Adrio Bailey's dunk.

South Carolina then outscored the Razorbacks 22-4 over a 6:50 span -- including 12 points by Lawson, who started the run with back-to-back three-pointers -- and moved ahead 59-54 on Bryant's dunk with 8:46 left.

Arkansas regrouped and regained the lead 61-59 on Gafford's tip-in basket, but Bryant tied it 61-61 on a rebound based at the 5:42 mark.

The Razorbacks never got the lead back.

"Very tough loss," Jones said. "We all hurt right now, because we should have won that game."

South Carolina settled down against Arkansas' pressure defense and had six turnovers in the second half.

Taking better care of the ball and hitting three-pointers brought the Gamecocks back.

South Carolina hit 10 of 15 three-pointers after coming into the game tied with LSU for 12th in the SEC in three-point shooting at 32.7 percent.

Lawson hit 4 of 5 three-pointers and senior guard Hassani Gravett hit 3 of 4.

"It definitely surprised me," Jones said of the Gamecocks' perimeter shooting. "They we made some good shots when they really needed them. So props to them."

South Carolina has been good enough from beyond the arc this season to hit 11 of 16 at Georgia and bad enough to open 0 of 18 against South Carolina-Upstate.

"I'm not going to sit here and say we're world-beaters shooting threes," Martin said. "But we're better than the 12th team in the league."

Anderson said the Razorbacks gave the Gamecocks too many good looks on the perimeter.

"We had some assignments where we didn't get out there on them," Anderson said. "When you're wide open, you're going to knock them down.

"I think most teams in our league, if you leave them open, they're going to make shots."

Anderson said Arkansas also hurt itself by taking too many chances at times on defense.

"We had the game going in the direction we wanted to, and I thought we started gambling," Anderson said. "With an inexperienced team, that's what happens.

"You start gambling and they make you pay for it. All of a sudden the momentum kind of shifted and it was game on."

Game sketch

RECORDS Arkansas 14-9, 5-5 SEC; South Carolina 12-11, 7-3

STARS South Carolina freshman guard A.J. Lawson (24 points, 7 rebounds) and freshman forward Keyshawn Bryant (17 points). Arkansas sophomore guard Mason Jones (15 points, 4 assists, 2 steals).

TURNING POINT The Gamecocks outscored the Razorbacks 14-2 the final 4:13.

KEY STAT South Carolina hit 10 of 15 three-point baskets.

UP NEXT Arkansas plays Missouri at 8 p.m. Central on Tuesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Sports on 02/10/2019


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