In one of four top-25 matchups on the day, No. 25 South Carolina produced an upset over No. 8 Texas A&M, 81-78, on the road in College Station Saturday afternoon.
The Gamecocks have been suffering from road woes all the season in conference play. A loss at Alabama was their first blemish of the season. A Saturday afternoon letdown on the road in Knoxville was a low point. And earlier this week, USC fell to rival Georgia in Athens, putting forth a poor performance in the first half that they could never recover from.
It couldn't have started off much worse if fans were hoping this team would erase the road issues that have plagued them this season. The Gamecocks got down 8-0 thanks to back-to-back A&M three-pointers. Frank Martin immediately called a timeout to gather his group. Out of the break, USC scored seven straight points and at the under-16 timeout, it was 11-9 Aggies.
Laimonas Chatkevicius has struggled recently and he continued to do so early on Saturday afternoon. Two seniors, along with junior Sindarius Thornwell, carried the load. Michael Carrera and Mindaugas Kacinas knocked down three-pointers as Thornwell dropped a trey too. The barrage gave South Carolina the lead with under 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Texas A&M responded with a 11-1 run that was only really impeded by another Carrera three-pointer. The Aggies took a 41-40 lead into the break. USC's perimeter defense was lacking, but luckily so was A&M's and the two teams combined for 15 three-pointers in the first half.
After halftime, Thornwell and Carrera continued to pace the Gamecocks on offense. Thornwell earned his third 20-point game of the season and the 12th of his career. Carrera knocked down a career-high number of three-pointers in the win as well.
A #SilvaSlam capped a 7-0 South Carolina run in the second half that gave USC the lead. The game was tied at 68 with eight minutes to play. Four minutes later, with both defenses bearing down, freshman P.J. Dozier put the Gamecocks on top, hitting a jumper to give his team a 72-70 lead with about four minutes left in the game. Carrera followed with yet another three-pointer and USC all of sudden had a two-possession lead in the game's final minutes.
Texas A&M was able to secure a wild three-point play with 20.6 seconds left, reducing the South Carolina lead to just two. Carrera made 1-of-2 free throws to put the Gamecocks up three with 16.6 seconds to play. The Aggies had a couple of chances in the end to tie the game from behind the arc but were unable to provide their home fans with some fireworks.
After a week on the road, South Carolina will host freshman sensation Ben Simmons and LSU on Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena.