Jan 08

Florida Takes Conference Opener Over South Carolina, 72-68

COLUMBIA, SC -Two defensive powers collided Wednesday night in the SEC opener, & a shooting slump in the second half for South Carolina (9-4, 0-1 SEC) would be the difference in a 72-68 loss to Florida (7-6, 1-0 SEC). Tyrone Johnson led the team with 20 points, yet the Gamecocks would make only eight field goals in the second half to see their seven-game win streak snapped. The Gamecocks fought through early adversity in the opening half as Florida’s full-court pressure on defense forced turnovers & gave the Gators a quick 17-6 lead just six minutes in. The strong start was buoyed by an 11-0 run that broke up a 6-all tie. Adding to the issues was the quick exit from sophomore guard Sindarius Thornwell, who played just the first six minutes before leaving with foul trouble. Needing a way to obtain back into contention, Carolina would turn to its nationally ranked defense to slow down Florida. After a layup from Marcus Stroman broke up the run, the Gamecocks held the visitors without a point for more than four minutes while embarking on an 11-0 run of their own to tie it back up at 17 with 9:33 to play. The rest of the half would be closely contested, with the final four minutes played as a one-possession game. With Florida’s defense locking down Duane Notice & Thornwell on the bench, Tyrone Johnson picked up the scoring slack with an electrifying half. He led all scorers with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting that included a pair of three-point plays off tough layups. …

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