COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina (7-3) defeated Appalachian State (2-8) 74-69 on Wednesday night in non-conference action at Colonial Life Arena behind a season-high 16 points from senior forward Lakeem Jackson.
Freshman forward Mindaugas Kacinas recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Kacinas also registered a career-high 3 blocks in the contest. Junior guard Brenton Williams put 11 points on the board in the effort. Junior guard Eric Smith tallied seven assists in the first half, matching a career high, and surpassed it with two more dimes after the break. In the last 80 minutes of basketball, Smith has handed out 16 assists while recording only 3 turnovers.
Appalachian State had three players reach double figures. Junior forward Tevin Baskin, sophomore guard Mike Neal and redshirt sophomore Jay Canty all scored 16 points on the night. Canty, along with senior forward Nathan Healy, collected a game-leading eight boards.
Junior forward RJ Slawson scored five early points to give the Gamecocks a 7-2 lead out of the gate. The Mountaineers closed the gap to three at the score of 11-8, but Williams hit a 3 and Slawson added his third basket of the half to double up on Appalachian State at 16-8. Another Williams 3 followed by a bucket by Kacinas gave South Carolina their largest lead of the game at 11.
Down 29-20 at the last media timeout of the half, the Mountaineers finished the first half with a flurry of action. Appalachian went 5-5 from the free throw line and scored three transition baskets during a 15-5 run. Canty's fast break basket gave the visitors their first lead of the game at 35-34 with 28 seconds remaining before the break.
Junior guard Bruce Ellington hit his first basket of the night, a 3-pointer, with seven seconds on the clock to give the upper hand back to the Gamecocks and the teams went into the locker room with a 37-35 score.
The Mountaineers scored the first five points of the second half to take a three-point lead. South Carolina responded with a 13-3 run to take a 52-45 advantage with 13:26 remaining. Ellington and Kacinas keyed the stretch with five and four points, respectively, in the stretch.
Appalachian responded with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 54 all and the teams traded baskets for a stretch. South Carolina built a nine-point margin after a Kacinas basket just after the final media timeout of the game.
Yet again, the Mountaineers finished the half with a flourish, pulling within two at 71-69 with only 19 seconds on the clock. The Gamecocks went 3-for-4 from the free throw line in the closing seconds to hold on for the 74-69 victory.
South Carolina travels to Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. ET, neutral site match up vs. Manhattan. The contest will be played at the newly opened Barclays Center.
Florida Downs SE Louisiana in Rout
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Mike Rosario was a hot topic of conversation Wednesday after playing his wire-to-wire best game since transferring to Florida from Rutgers two years ago.
The senior guard poured in 20 points, including 17 in the first half and four 3-pointers, to go with six rebounds and four assists in eighth-ranked UF’s 82-43 defeat of Southeastern Louisiana in front of a paid crowd of 8,057 at the O’Connell Center. His 31 minutes were easily a team-high for the game.
“I think he’s conformed. He’s been more disciplined, more responsible and more accountable,” Coach Billy Donovan said. “I feel like I know what I’m getting from him every day.”
Cue the “Twilight Zone” music.
To think where Rosario was this time last season - when Donovan wasn’t even sure if the former Scarlet Knight star would be able to practice on a given day - to have his coaches basically relying on him, speaks volumes of how far both parties have come.
Because Rosario is meeting the high standards set for him outside the lines, his play inside them is starting to take off. After hitting eight of his 13 field-goal tries and half of those eight 3-pointers, Rosario has averaged 16.6 points on 61 percent shooting and made eight of his last 14 from beyond the arc (57 percent) over the last three games.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, especially against a team like this,” Rosario said. “You want to come out with the same mindset as if it’s Wisconsin or Arizona, so by me being aggressive I think I really helped my team.”
Center Patric Young had 10 points and five rebounds, point guard Scottie Wilbekin had nine points, six rebounds and four assists, while freshmen Michael Frazier came off the bench to score 12 points and grab six rebounds mostly late in the game.
But Rosario set the tone.
“He got off a lot of shots, he created some shots for himself and was able to knock down threes when we found him,” Wilbekin said. “He was great.”
Now imagine if the Gators (8-1) can count on this version of Rosario every night. It would certainly help bridge senior guard Kenny Boynton’s current struggles, as UF’s leading scorer had another tough night, going 1-for-7 from the floor (all 3s) to run his shooting woes to 9-for-40 (that’s 22.5 percent) and 3-for-27 (11.1 percent) over his previous four games.
“He has to fight through this,” Donovan said of Boynton.
What Donovan was more immediately concerned with in facing the outmanned Lions (1-8) -- UF’s first game since the collapsing and crushing 65-64 loss Saturday night at Arizona -- was getting back to the level of intensity and discipline the Gators displayed before those eye-sore closing minutes of both halves against the Wildcats.
Especially on the defensive end.
“They were going to take the shot clock down to under 10 seconds,” Donovan said. “We had to limit them to one shot.”
That’s pretty much what happened.
Southeastern Louisiana shot just 29.1 percent for the game and came away with only six second-chance points, as UF handled the Lions on the glass 40-30 and held them to 14 points in the paint.
“We had just had to play disciplined, that’s what Coach kept talking about,” said junior forward Casey Prather, who scored eight points off the bench. “We had to do the things we’ve been working on in practice.”
That transfer started slowly, with Florida leading just 14-10 through eight minutes and by just eight, 25-17, after more than 13.
That’s when Rosario went on a scoring spree, first hitting back-to-back triples, then a driving bank-shot and a shake-and-bake 19-footer for 10 straight points over a span of 2:50 that pushed the Gators out in front 37-19.
“He got us going,” Wilbekin said.
Rosario’s teammates, collectively, brought things home in the second half by holding the Lions to just 25 percent shooting and not allowing a point through the first seven minutes after the break.
“With a team like that, they don’t need much of an open door to break through,” SE Louisiana coach Jim Yarbrough said.
Donovan was asked if the performance was the kind of “bounce-back” he was looking for after the late-game fiasco out West.
“I thought they bounced back at practice Sunday,” he said. “We didn’t need this game to bounce back.”
The Gators needed it to get back, as in to the way they were playing and going about their business before.
“We already were over that one as a team,” Wilbekin said. “We just wanted to make sure we were in tune with this game. They were another team in our path on this journey -- and we’ve got a long journey ahead of us.”
Alabama Picks Up Win at Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas - Guard Trevor Lacey led the Alabama men's basketball to a 66-62 victory over Texas Tech Wednesday night with 21 points, six rebounds, and a steal. The sophomore also led the Crimson Tide from behind the three-point line, going 4-5.
"I'm proud of our guys for sticking together," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "I thought we did a good job in the first half attacking their zone and just making plays. In the second half, we had 12 turnovers and went nearly nine minutes with only one basket. I thought we did a good job weathering the storm and we were able to come away with the win."
Junior guard Trevor Releford added 17 points and a team-high three steals. He went 11-14 from the free-throw line. Junior forward Jaye Crockett came off the bench for the Red Raiders, scoring a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Alabama jumped out to an early lead and was ahead 43-27 at the half. Texas Tech outpointed the Tide by eight points in the second half, but Alabama held on for the four-point win to go to 7-3 on the season while Texas Tech go to 5-3.
"I told the guys in the locker room after the game that we almost let one slip away unnecessarily today and I think they understood that," Grant said. "We are happy we won, but we understand we have to do a better job of playing the entire 40 minutes."
For the game, Alabama shot 51.1% (23-45) from the field and 35.7% (5-14) from behind the three-point arc. The Tide held Texas Tech to 37.9% (22-58) from the field. Alabama outrebounded the Red Raiders 33-28. Junior center Moussa Gueye led the Tide with seven rebounds.
Alabama plays again Saturday, December 22, against Mercer at home. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. CT and will be televised by CSS and the radio broadcast will be carried by the Crimson Tide Sports Network.
Ole Miss Squeaks Out Close Win in California
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Thanks in part to a double-double effort from senior Murphy Holloway, the Ole Miss Rebels escaped with a close 73-70 win over Loyola Marymount on Wednesday night.
Holloway dropped 16 points while grabbing 14 rebounds in the effort, notching his fourth double-double of the 2012 season to date. Marshall Henderson also provided significant muscle on the offense end of the floor for the Rebels (8-1) with a game-high 18 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field.
Ole Miss took an 11-point lead into halftime, but the Lions made things close in the second half by outscoring the Rebels 37-29 after the break. Anthony Ireland provided a spark for Loyola (5-5), scoring 17 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists, but the Lions did not do a great job of protecting the basketball on their way to 17 giveaways.
Nick Williams (13 points) and Jarvis Summers (12) scored in double-figures for the Rebs, and as a team Ole Miss was able to overcome a poor shooting night at the free throw stripe, where they converted only 60 percent of their attempts. As a unit, the Rebels shot 42.4 percent from the floor compared to 44.1 percent from Loyola Marymount, but Mississippi managed to commit five fewer turnovers.
Ayodeji Egbeyemi scored 14 points in the losing effort for the Lions, while Ashley Hamilton chipped in with 13 points of his own. Alex Osborne did not crack double-digits in scoring, but grabbed a team-best 10 rebounds.