In the first Saturday match-up of the SEC-Big 12 challenge, South Carolina achieved its best non-conference win since beating Baylor on the road in 2009. The Oklahoma State Cowboys entered Colonial Life Arena with an unblemished record, looking for their first 8-0 start under current head coach Travis Ford.
The Gamecocks were coming off a win in their first road test this season while the Cowboys first road game was today's contest in Columbia. Oklahoma State entered the game averaging 79 points per game, second amongst Big 12 teams.
South Carolina's stifling, pressure-filled defense held Oklahoma State to their lowest point total since 2011: a measly 49. The Cowboys shot 8-of-31 in the first half with star wing Le'Bryan Nash going 0-of-6 from the field. Nash had some of his strokes fall in the second half, finishing with 13 points. The Cowboys are also reliant on guard Phil Forte who was coming off a career-high 32 points in a win over North Texas Wednesday night. Forte shot 1-of-8 from the field and finished with just five points. South Carolina suffocated him with a solid rotation of Ty Johnson, Duane Notice, and Marcus Stroman. Even when the Gamecocks went to a zone, the sharpshooting junior couldn't hit from the outside.
For the second consecutive game the Gamecocks were led by Duane Notice on offense. The Canadian had a career-high 27 points versus Marshall Monday night and backed it up by dropping 20 on Oklahoma State. Sindarius Thornwell also helped the Gamecocks to the signature win, going into the half with nine points and eight rebounds, finishing with 13 points for the home team.
South Carolina used several runs to help propel them to their 75-49 win over Oklahoma State. The Cowboys used an 8-0 run of their own to take a 17-16 lead in the first half. Frank Martin then called a timeout to gather his team together. South Carolina ended the first half with a 32-24 lead after finishing the period with a 15-6 run and a 10-0 run coming out of that timeout. South Carolina's win also featured a 20-4 run midway through the second half to increase their lead to 30 points at one point.
Frank Martin and his team achieved the program's best non-conference win since 2009. Oklahoma State is a very quality team, receiving votes in both the Associated Press poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll. This game started a stretch of four home games in a row for the Gamecocks. If South Carolina can sweep the rest of this period, their long-term goals will again be well within reach. It was a signature win at a Lithuanian block party.