What a win! The Gamecocks just kept their faint NCAA tournament hopes alive with a thrilling 77-71 victory over the Florida Gators. Devan Downey led the way with 24 points, most of them coming late in the game at the free-throw line, where he was implacable. It was Brandis Raley-Ross, though, who stole the show for the Gamecocks for most of the night. Raley-Ross came up big with 20 points, including several of the key shots that helped us take the lead in the second half. Erving Walker had a big game for the Gators with 20.
A few thoughts on the game:
- Like the Kentucky win, this was another one the Gamecocks earned with scrappy play. We shot almost 20% less than Florida from the field, but we narrowly won the offensive boards battle and won the turnover battle by a mile, enabling us to take a full 18 more FGA than Florida. Now, if only we could find a way to do these things on the road...
- In addition to Raley-Ross, Sam Muldrow played a great game tonight. He scored 16 and nearly logged a double-double with eight boards. Two of those points came on a shot at the end of the first half that kept us within striking distance as we went in with a deficit. He also did a great job defending the post, where the Gators were largely inneffective.
- Free throw shooting down the stretch was remarkably good. That was key, because the Gators surprisingly managed to make a game of it late. I was impressed with Bill Donovan's strategy of attacking the basket late and hoping we would either foul or miss some free throws. Luckily, we didn't miss many.
- The raucous Garnet Army played a role in our victory tonight. The Gators were a pitiful 43.5% from the line.
That's a wrap on this one. Next up: at the Georgia Bulldogs. This is a big, big game. We're going to have to find a way to win a road game at some point if we're going to make the NCAAs. Georgia is one of our better chances to do that, but the Dawgs have been playing well lately, especially at home. We'll need to bring our A-game to this one.