The No. 15 South Carolina men's basketball team extended its win streak to seven games with a 75-60 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon at the Colonial Life Arena.
The Gamecocks earned the win after an offensive turnaround in the second half, which was fueled by a career performance from freshman forward Collin Murray-Boyles.
South Carolina got off to a slow start after its 3-point shots, which have been a hallmark for the team all season, were not falling. The Gamecocks shot just 1-9 from behind the arc, which kept it from building a lead greater than 5 points at any point in the first half.
The Commodores were only slightly more efficient on field goals during the opening 20 minutes of the game — Vanderbilt shot 46.4% (13-28) from the floor, compared to a 46.2% (12-26) mark from South Carolina — but headed into the halftime break with a 32-28 lead.
Head coach Lamont Paris said he told his team at half time that it was on them to change the trajectory of the game.
"It won't be histrionics. You won't see me getting red in the face and yelling and trying to get you to do things that you already know you need to do in order for us to play really well and have success. I'm not going to do that," Paris said. "It's your team. You've got to decide that you're going to do that."
The second half was a different story for the Gamecocks, however, as its 47 second-half points and efficient shooting helped the team to an eventual 15-point win over Vanderbilt.
In the second half, South Carolina improved its shooting on all field goals (56.3%) and 3-point shots (44.4%) to extend its lead into double digits.
The Gamecocks' high-pressure defense kept Vanderbilt from hitting outside shots — despite shooting 50% on field goals in the second half, it was just 1-6 from 3-point range — which limited the Commodores' ability to get back in the game.
“We (weren't) playing like ourselves in the first half,” graduate forward B.J. Mack said. "(In the) second half, you've seen a lot of just us moving the ball, getting a lot of stops on defense, so we waited for our defense to lead into our offense. That's our identity."
Despite having two different offensive halves, South Carolina's constant throughout the game was the production it got from Murray-Boyles, who is in the midst of his best run of performances as a college basketball player.
Murray-Boyles was the only Gamecock player to score in double digits in the first half, totaling 11 points and shooting 5-7 from the field.
He finished the game with a career-high 31 points on 14-17 shooting, continuing a run of three straight games in which he has scored at least 10 points. Murray-Boyles also led South Carolina in rebounding with seven boards.
"In terms of evolving as a player, it's amazing to see and how much more room there is for him to grow as a basketball player," Paris said. "He's got unbelievable energy, then you combine that with tremendous athleticism. And his instincts, on both sides of the ball, are way ahead of the curve.”
Mack also contributed greatly to South Carolina's offensive efforts with 18 points — 15 of which came from his five made 3-point shots — and six rebounds.
The Gamecocks (21-3, 9-2 SEC) will look to add to its winning streak when it takes on No. 12 Auburn (19-5, 8-3 SEC) on Wednesday. The game will tip off at 8:30 p.m. and be broadcast on the SEC Network.