The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina men's basketball pulls ahead in overtime victory against Missouri

<p>FILE - Junior guard Jacobi Wright drives down the lane during South Carolina’s exhibition game against Wofford at Colonial Life Arena on Nov. 1, 2023. The Gamecocks beat the Terriers 60-57.</p>
FILE - Junior guard Jacobi Wright drives down the lane during South Carolina’s exhibition game against Wofford at Colonial Life Arena on Nov. 1, 2023. The Gamecocks beat the Terriers 60-57.

The South Carolina men’s basketball team was triumphant in thrilling fashion on Saturday, defeating the Missouri Tigers 71-69 in overtime on the road.

The standout player for the Gamecocks was junior guard Jacobi Wright, who made the game-winning mid-range jump shot with 13 seconds remaining in overtime. 

"We made a couple plays defensively down towards the end of regulation that allowed us to even get it into overtime," head coach Lamont Paris said. "At that point, defensively, we had kind of found our groove."

The Tigers entered the game having lost five of its last six games. The team suffered key losses to Kansas, Seton Hall and Kentucky in that span.

The Gamecocks came into the contest off a brutal 74-47 loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Prior to that, the team was on a six-game winning streak.

South Carolina trailed 33-32 at the end of the first half despite going on a 7-0 run in the first two minutes of the game. Missouri won the early turnover battle, recording fewer fouls than South Carolina. The Gamecocks and Tigers combined for a measly 3-22 in the first half from beyond the arc.

The second half was a similarly close contest, as the Tigers never had more than a 6-point lead of 48-42.


"Missouri's got a good team. I don't think that's a secret," Paris said. "It just was two good teams battling, and they'd make a couple plays, we'd make a couple plays, and fitting that there would be some drama at the end."

The Gamecocks remained resilient and ultimately forced the game into overtime, giving the team an opportunity to win. 

It’s hard to go on the road and get a win,” Paris said. ”We covet any win, certainly, but the road wins are something altogether.”  

Among those who thrived for the Gamecocks was graduate student forward B.J. Mack, who led all scorers in the first half with 10 points, finishing with 21 on the game and shooting 7-13 from the field.

Mack’s performance came at a timely opportunity as the team's usual leading scorer, junior guard Meechie Johnson, struggled. Johnson tallied just 5 points and five turnovers along with some poor on-ball defense in the 28 minutes that he played.

Paris subbed Johnson out late in the second half in favor of Wright and didn’t look back in the overtime period. Wright went on to score 11 points, including his game-winner. 

It was going to come down to what we could do from a defensive and rebounding standpoint, and how badly did we want to end up coming out of here as a winner," Paris said. “We had to have some stops.”

For the Tigers, graduate student forward Noah Carter led the way. Carter tallied a season-high 23 points, five rebounds and went 9-20 from the field. Carter was accompanied by graduate student guard Sean East II, who scored 15 points and eight rebounds. 

South Carolina's freshman forward Collin Murray-Boyles entered the starting lineup for the first time this season. The true freshman replaced graduate student forward Stephen Clark and tallied 6 points and six rebounds in his 25 minutes on the court.

Murray-Boyles made his debut now that he has made a full recovery from mononucleosis, which sidelined him early in the season. 

The Gamecocks advance to 2-1 in the SEC and 14-2 on the season. The win also marks South Carolina's first road win in SEC play. 

The Gamecocks will look to kickstart another winning streak on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 9 p.m. when the team returns to Colonial Life Arena to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. The game will be broadcast on the SEC network.