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Second half dooms Gamecocks against Cowboys in 74-63 loss

So that was a little frustrating.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks put together a solid first half, but wilted in the second when the Wyoming Cowboys used a big run to put the game out of reach and handed the Gamecocks a 74-63 loss in their first true road game on Wednesday.

The evening started out well for South Carolina, as Wyoming frankly couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean and the Gamecock offense was feeding off that stifling defensive effort. The situation improved even more when Cowboys senior Justin James, their leading scorer, was shelved early with two fouls and forced to watch from the bench. Wyoming warmed up a bit near the end of the half to whittle into South Carolina’s lead, but the Gamecocks nonetheless took a 37-33 advantage into the locker room.

Unfortunately, circumstances unraveled rather quickly for South Carolina after that. The Cowboys, re-energized with James back on the court, went on a rapid 17-4 run that effectively ended South Carolina’s hopes. With the defense reeling, the Gamecock offense stalled: South Carolina shot a miserable 15 percent (3 of 20) from 3, and finished the game shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.

Freshman A.J. Lawson again led the Gamecocks, scoring 15 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Chris Silva (11 points, eight rebounds) was the only other player in double figures for South Carolina, although Felipe Haase scored eight points in a pretty good offensive showing for him. Freshman Alanzo Frink, still working his way back into game shape after an offseason injury, was a promising 2-of-3 from the field for four points in his six minutes of action.

The Gamecocks out-rebounded the smaller Cowboys 43-31, and also had a 17-of-20 showing from the free-throw line to continue a much improved effort in that area. But a cold-shooting second half was just too much to overcome.

South Carolina (4-4) next travels to No. 5 Michigan on Saturday, where tipoff is at noon.