South Carolina men’s basketball (9-7, 4-0 SEC) overcame a double-digit deficit on the road against the Vanderbilt Commodores (9-7, 0-4 SEC) with a 74-71 win to stay undefeated in the SEC.
The Gamecocks are on a five-game winning streak and remain tied for first place in the SEC standings with Tennessee and LSU.
“I’ve liked this team from day one,” head coach Frank Martin said in a video by Gamecocks Central. “They’ve got a lot of resolve ... when a game's going, I know that they are not throwing the towel in.”
South Carolina trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half. The Gamecocks trimmed the lead down to single digits after a 12-2 scoring run.
Felipe Haase hit a 3-pointer late in the game to tie it and Hassani Gravett made another 3-pointer to tie it again with 1:12 remaining.
A.J. Lawson made two free throws with 23 seconds left to put South Carolina up by one point, and the Gamecocks held the lead from there.
“I was just trying to stay focused,” Lawson said, referring to his late free throws. “My teammates were encouraging me, and I just felt confident while shooting them.”
Gravett increased the lead, making two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to finish with 17 points and earned the three-point victory for the Gamecocks.
“We just stayed composed through adversity,” Gravett said. “Everybody was able to keep a level head and just keep fighting. We didn’t let up.”
Lawson led South Carolina with 24 points. He was eight for 14 in field goal shooting and seven for eight in free throws. Keyshawn Bryant led the Gamecocks with six rebounds and had 13 points. Haase led the team with three assists and finished with nine points.
Vanderbilt shot 45.5 percent in field goals to South Carolina’s 41.2 percent. However, South Carolina had 35 rebounds, while the Commodores had 28.
“We got some big-time offensive rebounds,” said Martin. “That also helped to win the game, our ability to get extra possessions.”
South Carolina also led Vanderbilt in free throw shooting, despite missing five consecutive free throws late in the second half. The Gamecocks shot 77.1 percent from the free throw line, while Vanderbilt shot 64.9 percent. The teams combined for a total of 55 personal fouls.
The Gamecocks are 4-0 in the SEC for the second time in three years. In 2017, South Carolina started 5-0 in the SEC, which resulted in a historic run to the school’s first Final Four appearance.
South Carolina will look to stay undefeated in the SEC and continue its win streak on the road against the LSU Tigers on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. on SEC Network.