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South Carolina tops Florida 57-53

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Gamecocks win ranked matchup, move to 5-0 in SEC play.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The #24 South Carolina Gamecocks moved to 5-0 in SEC play with a 57-53 win over the #19 Florida Gators. In a tightley called, offensive struggle, Carolina picked up the win at the foul line.

Both teams got off to a rough start as It took almost six minutes for either team to score. The Gamecocks did not score their first points until the 12:20 mark when Rakym Felder hit a three. The freshman led the team in scoring at the break, scoring all seven of his points. Florida took a 28-21 advantage into the break. The built their lead in the paint, outscoring Carolina 24-6. Kasey Hill scored 11 in the first half for the Gators.

Carolina started the second half on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 30. But then both teams went cold again. Both teams also had foul trouble. For Carolina, P.J. Dozier and Chris Silva picked up their fourth foul mid-way through the second half. Carolina held a 40-38 lead at the eight minute timeout.

At the five minute mark the Gamecocks held a 45-42 lead. Sindarius Thornwell and Silva led the way in the second half to get the Gamecocks in front. Both were in double figures for the half with Thornwell scoring 15 and Silva with 11.

The final minute began with a pair of Thornwell free throws to give the Gamecocks a 54-51 lead. Florida’s Chris Chiozza responded with a circus shot to cut it back to one with 40 seconds remaining. A big finish at the rim by P.J. Dozier pushed the lead back to three with 22 seconds left. After a Frank Martin timeout, Florida threw the ball away with 16 seconds left. Thornwell went to the line and split a pair of free throws, giving Carolina a four point lead. The Gamecocks closed it out from there as Florida missed a pair of three point attempts.

Thornwell led the team with 20 points, shooting 9-13 from the foul line. Chris Silva (11) and P.J. Dozier (10) joined the senior in double figures. Canyon Barry led the way for Florida with 13 points. The 53 points are a season-low for Florida. The team shot 35 percent from the floor and went 0-17 from three. In a game that featured 55 fouls, the Gamecocks performed much better at the line than Florida. Carolina was 23-34 while the Gators shot only 15-28.

Next up for the Gamecocks is trip to Kentucky to take on the #5 Wildcats at 6 p.m. on Saturday.