South Carolina basketball stays hot, beats Missouri to move to 17-3

As a follow-up to the big win over Kentucky, South Carolina basketball stayed hot with a win over Missouri to move to 17-3 (5-2).

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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Lamont Paris' South Carolina basketball squad lit the country on fire on Tuesday with a dominant win over the Kentucky Wildcats, but even through the celebrations, Gamecock fans were nervous for the letdown that seems so often to follow a big win.

The next test came on Saturday as the Missouri Tigers traveled from the "other Columbia" to play USC at Colonial Life Arena. To avoid the dreaded letdown, Carolina would have to keep Mizzou winless in SEC play (8-11 overall, 0-6 in the SEC).

Tamar Bates opened up the scoring for Missouri, and the Tigers started 4-0 after some ugly offensive possessions for the Gamecocks. A nice inside-out look from Collin Murray-Boyles to Ta'Lon Cooper got USC on the board about a minute later, and then five straight points from big BJ Mack put the home team up 8-4.

The 8-0 run ended with a 3-point play the old-fashioned way from Sean East, but a tough end-of-shot-clock Jacobi Wright jumper and a big dunk from Josh Gray served as South Carolina's answer. After almost three minutes without a point, Missouri got another bucket from Bates to make the score 12-9.

After a few more trips up and down the floor, freshman Collin Murray-Boyles committed a turnover but stole the ball back on the next possession, leading to a BJ Mack corner 3-pointer to go up 17-10. Less than a minute later, another inside-out pass from Murray-Boyles set up Morris Ugusuk for a 3-ball, and the Gameocks' run moved to 8-0 (their second 8-0 run of the game).

In all, Lamont Paris' team scored 10 straight before Sean East managed to put the ball through the hoop. A few more scores from Missouri cut into the South Carolina lead, but another Ugusuk long ball put the Gamecocks back up by 12.

Two straight buckets from Noah Carter helped out the Tigers' cause, and the lead dropped to 4 after Nick Honor made a transition 3-pointer from the corner. From there, the two teams traded scores until the final seconds when Ta'Lon Cooper hit a fallaway midrange to put South Carolina basketball up 39-29 heading into halftime.

The 2nd half began with a Missouri scoring run. The scoreboard reflected no change for South Carolina basketball until the Gamecocks' lead disappeared after that number grew to 11-straight. Carolina's top offensive option on the day, BJ Mack, stopped the run with a hoop and harm, making a tough layup through contact and the ensuing free throw.

A big-time block from Collin Murray-Boyles started a fast break that ended with the big man getting a 2nd chance score after a Zach Davis miss, but Mizzou's dynamic duo of East and Bates scored back-to-back baskets to tie the score again at 44-44.

The game slowed down from there until Jacobi Wright and Ta'Lon Cooper partnered for 2 long 3-point makes to push the Carolina lead back to 7 points heading into the under-12 media timeout.

Neither team scored much over the next few minutes as turnovers and missed shots were the story. As the Tigers and Gamecocks both approached 3-minute scoring droughts, Sean East hit two free throws before Zach Davis responded with a 3-pointer to make the score 57-50.

Morris Ugusuk and Ta'Lon Cooper brought their scoring totals up to 10 points each with trips to the free throw line, and the USC lead grew to 10 after Collin Murray-Boyles fouled out Jordan Butler with just over 5 minutes left in the game.

After trading some scores, the under-4 timeout saw South Carolina basketball take a 9-point lead into the closing minutes of the game.

Missouri threatened several times, repeatedly cutting the USC lead to two possessions. Two clutch blocks from Collin Murray-Boyles kept Missouri from scoring again, and Ta'Lon Cooper put his team up 69-62 with just one minute to play.

Some Jacobi Wright makes at the charity stripe put the game away, and CMB steal ended it.

72. 533. Final. 64. 531. South Carolina Basketball vs. Missouri Tigers