South Carolina basketball had won six games in a row when they welcomed the Vanderbilt Commodores to Columbia for an SEC contest on Saturday. The 'Dores won their first conference game last weekend against Missouri but gave up 109 points in a loss to Kentucky during the mid-week.
The 15th-ranked Gamecocks were outscored 5-0 in the opening minute Ezra Manjon and Evan Taylor scored on Vandy's first two shot attempts. In the next 60 seconds, though, USC tied the score with 2 points from Meechie Johnson and an old-school 3-point play from BJ Mack.
Vanderbilt didn't miss their first shot until after the first media timeout (4-4), but the Gamecocks only trailed 9-8. The home team took their first lead on a Meechie Johnson jumper, and then the team's third 3-point play of the game (this one from former Vanderbilt Commodore Myles Stute) put them up by 4.
Efficient shooting from both teams (6-10 for Vanderbilt, 6-12 for South Carolina) had the score sitting at 16-13 at the under-12 media stoppage, but a 3-ball from Jordan Williams tied the game. From there, Vandy didn't score for almost two and a half minutes, but the Gamecocks were only able to take a 2-point lead into the under-8 timeout as they had a scoring drought that also lasted over 2 minutes.
The two teams traded buckets, but one of Vandy's was a 3-pointer from the sharpshooting Evan Taylor, so the 2-point lead shrunk to 1. Ven-Allen Lubin tied the game with a 1-2 trip to the free throw line, and a ludicrous travel call against Josh Gray gave the ball back to Vanderbilt.
An 0-8 combined stretch from the floor (plus three turnovers) was ugly to watch, but Ezra Manjon went 1-2 from the charity stripe, and Tyrin Lawrence hit a 3-pointer to put his team up by 4. The Gamecocks' scoring drought lasted over 4 minutes before a Collin Murray-Boyles score.
Lawrence scored again in the closing seconds, and the Gamecocks couldn't get a shot off. The heavy underdogs led the Gamecocks 32-28 heading into halftime.
It took less than 50 seconds of clock in the 2nd half for Carolina to regain thelead, however, as Ta'Lon Cooper hit a 3-pointer from the wing, and Collin Murray-Boyles found an open lane to the basket. Cooper found BJ Mack for a corner jumper to push the score to 36-32 before Ven-Allen Lubin got the Commodores on the board.
Another CMB 3-point play was the answer, and then Cooper found Mack for another deep ball. After trailing by 4 heading into halftime, Carolina was up by 6 just 3 minutes into 2nd half play. A drop-step dunk from the freshman Murray-Boyles on fellow freshman Malik Presley gave him a new career-high with 18 points and put Carolina up 44-36.
A few minutes later, a third converted 3-point play from Murray-Boyles gave him 23 points, and the Gamecocks had their first double-digit lead. After trading buckets (including Myles Stute's first 3-point make), Murray-Boyles got the crowd on its feet again with a chasedown block on an Ezra Manjon fastbreak.
The big block was part of a scoreless stretch in which neither team put the ball through the basket for 3 minutes. Both squads broke out of their funks on back-to-back possessions as Paul Lewis hit a pull-up jumper, and BJ Mack made his 4th 3-pointer of the game.
A Jacobi Wright 3-pointer put Carolina up by 14 points, and what was a very shaky 1st half from Lamont Paris' team felt like a distant memory.
After a timeout, Vandy went on a lightning-quick 5-point run, but BJ Mack's 5th made 3-point jumper settled things back down. A dunk from CMB gave him 27, but Tyrin Lawrence answered with an even bigger dunk. The lead swelled to a game-high 16 when Zach Davis canned a corner jump shot, and Murray-Boyles dunked home an offensive rebound.
Myles Stute got tackled without a whistle, but when the Gamecocks got the ball back, he scored on an assist from Jacobi Wright. The 73-58 lead was enough for USC to coast to the finish line, but in the final minute, Collin Murray-Boyles got one more big dunk to put his scoring total up to 31. It was the Gamecocks' first 30-point performance of the season. He joined Meechie Johnson (4x) and BJ Mack as players to score at least 24 points this year.