After a close first half where South Carolina looked like it could replicate the magic from its Saturday win over Kentucky, the Florida Gators went on a 23-5 run to run away from South Carolina in the second half. In the end, the final margin of 26 points didn't reflect how close the game was in the first half, but certaintly reflected the Gators' excellence in the second.
The win puts Florida on a 22-game win streak, and one win shy of a perfect SEC regular season. They'll try to hit the 18-0 mark on Saturday when the host Kentucky.
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The story of the game seemed to be Michael Frazier's 37 points on 11-18 shooting from beyond the arc, but truth be told, the Gamecocks didn't get beat from downtown, as the rest of the Gators went 0-13 from downtown.
Rather, South Carolina simply couldn't stop Florida without turnovers, and couldn't avoid turnovers themselves, though even on possessions when Carolina got shots, Florida held them to just over one point per possession, a mark you should hit even when you consider turnovers. Carolina's inability to hit shots from anywhere on the floor led to its undoing before you factor in the 19 turnovers. It was a rough night offensively against one of the best defenses in the country.
The Gamecocks were led in scoring by a very surprising source - Mindaugas Kacinas, who put in 12 pionts on 5-7 shooting from the field to go with 8 rebounds (5 offensive). The bigger story was the Gator's ability to shut down the rest of the offense. Neither Sindarius Thornwell nor Brenton Williams - the latter playing his final game in Columbia - could produce from the field as they usually do, scoring just 14 points combined, with Thornwell adding 7 turnovers despite the fact that Duane Notice played point almost the entire evening (even though he once again didn't start). The other two starters - Michael Carrera and Demetrius Henry - each contributed zero points despite 29 minutes on the floor.
South Carolina isn't as bad as it looked on Tuesday, and it's probably not as good as it looked on Saturday. One thing it should be is better than Mississippi State. The Bulldogs sport a 3-13 conference record, which means no matter what the outcome of their game in Athens on Wednesday night, thanks to tiebreakers, the loser of the Gamecocks' match-up with State on Saturday in Starkville will carry the 14 seed into the SEC tournament.
If State loses to Georgia, they'll bring a 12-game losing streak into the contest. Meanwhile, South Carolina will have its last chance of the season to get a true road win. While it's certainly not the type of stakes you want in a game late in the season, there's a chance for both teams to salvage some pride before they march into the opening night of the SEC tournament.
The game tips off at 4pm on SECTV.