After an embarrassing loss to Vanderbilt over the weekend, the South Carolina men's basketball team bounced back against No. 22 Florida on Wednesday night, upsetting them 72-66.
South Carolina has won the last two matchups against the Gators who came into the game as the hottest team in the SEC, winning four straight including two against top 15 teams.
South Carolina's early success stemmed from playing at their pace and taking shots inside the paint. Junior guard AJ Lawson scored against big man Colin Castleton, a junior forward for Florida.
This energy gave the Gamecocks an early ten-point lead. Lawson finished with 22 points on the day, two shy of a thousand on his career. He has yet to lose in Gainesville during his career at South Carolina.
“We just played hard, and the teammates were encouraging us, and we on our runs. Thank the man above,” Lawson said postgame.
Florida fought back and took the lead before halftime, due in large part to three-point shooting from the Gamecocks. South Carolina finished the day 4-19 from behind the arch and finished the first half on a 3:48 field goal drought.
South Carolina got back to their interior play during the second half. They outscored the Gators by 50-30 inside the paint and 20-8 on second-chance points.
When Lawson picked up his fourth foul, it looked as if the game was over for the Gamecocks. Redshirt senior guard Seventh Woods led the Gamecocks with 12 second-half points, and a 13-3 run to finish the game.
“Playing with confidence, he’s going to score, assist and just be a good teammate. He's gonna play defense, do all things. He’s another player on the court we’re gonna need,” Lawson said about Woods.
South Carolina’s defense kept the Gators from scoring during the final 2:05 of the game. They held the Gators to 40.3% from the field, a big change from the 49.2% South Carolina gave up on Saturday.
“Defensively I thought we played really well. I thought our ball-screen coverage was the best it’s been all year,” South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said. “The best part of our defense today was we didn’t commit bad stupid fouls.”
The Gamecocks only sent Florida to the free-throw line fifteen times.
The win was South Carolina’s first ranked road win since December of 2019 when they beat Virginia in Charlottesville.
South Carolina will be back in action on Saturday afternoon when they host Mississippi State at 3:30 p.m.