For the first time since the 2010-11 season, South Carolina has won two conference basketball games in a row. The Cocks squeaked past Alabama today at the Colonial Life Arena, beating the visitors 67-66.
Neither team was particularly impressive in the first half, but the Crimson Tide made just four field goals in the entire half and the Gamecocks took a nine-point lead into the locker room. They led by as many as 12 points early in the second half, but then things took a turn for the worse. Bama went on a 35-19 run, the gap closed significantly, and with just over two minutes remaining in the game, the teams were knotted at 60 points apiece.
It looked like Carolina might be headed for another heartbreaker as the Tide took the lead with time ticking away, but the Gamecocks didn’t give up. In the closing minute, Sindarius Thornwell put up five points quickly, Mindaugus Kacinas tipped in a shot with about 15 seconds to go, and Thornwell sank two more free throws to secure the victory for South Carolina. Alabama’s Trevor Releford hit a three-pointer as time was about to expire, but the Cocks had done enough to come away with the very narrow victory.
USC shot almost 50 percent from the field, while Alabama was just over 40 percent. Neither squad grabbed a ton of offensive rebounds, (the Gamecocks tallied eight compared to the Crimson Tide’s seven), but were stronger defensively, with Carolina grabbing 19 and Bama 18. Thornwell led the Cocks with 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while Releford paced the Tide with 27 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Brent Williams was the only other South Carolina player in double figures (he had 10 points), while both Shannon Hale and Rodney Cooper totaled 11 points for Bama.
After the game, some of the players took to Twitter to express their excitement and thank the fans for their support:
The Gamecocks improve to 10-15 overall and 3-9 in the SEC, while the Crimson Tide drop to 10-15 overall and 4-8 in conference play. USC will be back in action Wednesday at 9 p.m., when they take on Arkansas in Fayetteville.