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#16 South Carolina uses second half surge to top South Florida

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at South Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the first game since suffering their first loss to Seton Hall last Monday, the South Carolina Gamecocks started slow on the road. Trailing by six at the break, a big second half propelled the Gamecocks to 9-1 with a 77-66 road win over South Florida.

Already without Sindarius Thornwell, the Gamecocks were also without guard Hassani Gravett. Gravett, who missed the game through injury, had his best game of the season in the loss to Seton Hall earlier in the week. With the two missing, freshman point guard Rakym Felder stepped up with a career high 11 points. With the offense struggling from beyond the arc, Felder hit three crucial three pointers late in the first half to keep the deficit at single digits.

In the second half, the Gamecocks got the offense rolling. Duane Notice found his shooting stroke during the first ten minutes of the half. Notice hit double figures for the fifth time this season with 15 points. He hit a big three pointer late in the shot clock with a little over three minutes remaining to push the lead to 9. P.J. Dozier continued his good play, scoring 20+ points for the fourth straight contest and setting a career high with 23 points. Justin Mckie chipped in with 9 points for the second straight game as Carolina outscored the Bulls 46-29 in the second half.

The Gamecocks did not dominate in the paint, out rebounded yet again, 41-34. But Maik Kotsar hit double figures for the first time in since Vermont with 11 points. Chris Silva finished with six after getting into foul trouble in the second half.

The defense turned up the heat in the second half, holding USF to 29 points after a 37 point first half. Jahmal McMurray led with Bulls with 25 points but only two other USF players scored more than six points. The Bulls only scored three points in the final three minutes as the Gamecocks pulled away with an 11 point win.

Next up for the Gamecocks is a home game against Clemson, Wednesday night 9 p.m. on ESPNU.