Whatever you might say of their road performances, you can't say they go away.
The Gamecocks came back from 17 points down in the first half to tie it up on multiple occasions on Wednesday night, erasing a 40-23 deficit when it tied the game at 55 a piece. But they could never re-gain the lead, and they ultimately fell to 0-10 on the road this season, and 3-10 in SEC play, still tied for last place in the SEC with Mississippi State.
Coming into the evening, it seemed most likely that the Hogs would force South Carolina into so many turnovers that they couldn't overcome them. While the Gamecocks did ultimately turn the ball over on over one-quarter of their possessions, Arkansas' own 24% turnover rate rendered that mostly moot. Unfortunately for Carolina, when the Hogs did get shots, they got multiple looks, as USC ceded a 46% offensive rebounding rate, allowing Arkansas extra shots all evening, most of which came from the line. While the Hogs only hit 68% of their shots from the stripe, their 19-12 advantage in points from the free throw line represented the ultimate margin of victory.
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For the Gamecocks, the story of the night came down to the guards - Brenton Williams, Duane Notice, and Sindarius Thornwell. As for the senior, he scored 29 points on 11-20 shooting form the field with only 2 turnovers, one of his best outings as a Gamecock. Unfortunately, his backcourt compatriots combined to go 3-23 from the field with 8 turnovers. Given the reliance Carolina clearly has on these three guys, it's hard to say the 8-18 effort from the rest of the team determined the game. USC relies on three guys. If only one shows up, they really can't win.
The Gamecocks did a decent, though not great, job of containing Arkansas, although Michael Qualls put up 20 points on 7-14 shooting from the field. However, the Hogs got scoring from 9 other players, and what killed Carolina wasn't any one guy, but the combined inability to shut down the defensive glass, as they barely out-rebounded Arkansas on the Hogs' misses, with Carolina grabbing 21 of those boards to Arkansas' 18. Those extra shots ultimately gave the Razorbacks just enough chances to grab the victory.
The two teams spent the first 8 minutes trading turnovers and free throws, as they combined for 9 turnovers and 10 made free throws in a sloppy game that was tied at 12 before things broke open. In the next 5 minutes the 'Cocks and Hogs doubled their combined points, as the two teams traded 3 pointers in an up-and-down game that began to reflect the torrid pace that Arkansas loves, with the Hogs opening up a 27-21 lead.
Arkansas extended the lead to 11 points at 34-23 at the under four timeout and continued to stretch its lead as the Hogs simply out-shot the Gamecocks from everywhere on the court. However, Brenton Williams drained a 3-pointer with just over a minute to go and finished an old-fashioned 3-point play in Carolina's final possession of the half to draw the Gamecocks within striking distance as they entered the half down 40-29, despite Arkansas out-shooting them from 2 (60% to 35%), 3 (50% to 27%), and at the line (100% to 86%).
The six points capped Brenton's 16-point first half effort, every bit of which Carolina needed as Arkansas held leading scorer Sindarius Thornwell scoreless on 0-4 shooting. From the field, Williams went 6-12 in the first half, and Michael Carrera hit his two attempts. The rest of the Gamecocks went 2-17.
In the second half, Carolina continued its run by scoring the first 9 points of the half in just two minutes, capped by a Brian Steele 3-pointer, and closing the Arkansas lead to 40-38. Arkansas rallied to go ahead 48-40, but two Brenton Williams' 3s closed the lead back to 2 at the 12 minute mark.
Carolina and Arkansas traded buckets over the next few minutes, until Duane Notice found Laimonas Chatkevicius underneath for a wide-open lay-up to tie the game at 55 with 5 minutes to go, the first time Arkansas hadn't led in over 20 minutes. However, the Hogs responded with a 3 from Michael Qualls to go up 58-55 with under four minutes to play, followed by a Bobby Portis putback and a Coty Clarke layup, as the Hogs went on a 7-0 run to open up a 62-55 lead with 2:30 to go.
Three Thornwell free throws followed by a layup with 1:40 to go drew Carolina back within 2, but Mardracus Wade hit a 3 to open the lead back to 5. A Carrera layup with 45 seconds left moved the Gamecocks back within 3, and after Coty Clarke went 1-2 from the line, Brenton Williams hit another layup to make it 66-64 with 21 seconds to go. Another 1-2 effort from Clarke got Carolina the ball back, but an Arkansas double-team of Williams ended in a dubious turnover call from an officiating crew that didn't have its best night, and Rashad Madden hit two free throws to seal it for the Hogs.
Note: this post was slightly edited to change some statistics due to a faulty box score in the live box provided by GamecocksOnline.com.