South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks collapse, lose 16-point lead in loss to LSU

South Carolina basketball blew a 16-point lead to lose at home to the LSU Tigers on Saturday.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball had their worst performance of the year last time out when they lost by 40 points at Auburn. The setback moved the Gamecocks' record to 21-4 (9-3 in the SEC), and USC fell into a tie for 2nd place in the conference.

A bounce-back opportunity presented itself on Saturday as the LSU Tigers traveled to Columbia led by Matt McMahon (who, according to reports, chose the LSU head coaching job over the South Carolina basketball job after the 2021-2022 season). Gamecock fans have been more than satisfied with how things shook out, however, as Lamont Paris entered this game calm, cool, and collected as he always is.

The crowd was rowdy in Colonial Life Arena leading up to the opening tip. Hard defense and struggling offense were the story early for both teams, and former Gamecock Trae Hannibal picked up 3 rebounds in the game's first 2 minutes.

The offensive struggles continued as both teams were shooting 25% from the floor 6 minutes into the game. LSU took a 7-6 lead on a big alley-oop from Hannibal to Hunter Dean, but two free throws from Josh Gray (the former LSU Tiger) regained the advantage for the home team.

A few possessions later, LSU's Jordan Wright got away with a double-dribble and scored, kick starting a 6-0 run for the Tigers that carried into the under-12 media timeout. After the break, though, a Collin Murray-Boyles contested layup and a Myles Stute 3-pointer evened the score 13-13.

The Gamecock scoring run swelled to 8-0 after a BJ Mack and-1 from BJ Mack after a nice find from Myles Stute. In all, a 12-0 stretch over about 3 1/2 minutes of gametime put Carolina up 20-13 before a 1-2 trip to the free throw line for Tyrell Ward.

Lamont Paris' team didn't let up, however, as they held LSU to no field goals for over 6 minutes during what finished as a 17-1 run that put USC ahead 29-17.

Over the final few minutes of the 1st half, LSU cut into their deficit a bit with a 6-0 run, but Carolina entered halftime leading 32-25. The horrible shooting start for both teams eased up a little but neither group was able to crack 40% from the floor or 20% from the perimeter.

After halftime, South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris had to be pleased with his defense as his unit held LSU scoreless for the first 3:36 of the period, and their lead jumped up to 16 points.

A Jalen Reed shot ended the skid for the Bayou Bengals, and they slowly clawed their way back to contention. With just over 13 minutes to play in the game, two Trae Hannibal free throws made the score 42-34. Reed hit a 3-point jumper a few possessions later to cut the gap to 5 points, but a huge Josh Gray dunk sent the Gamecocks to the under-12 up by 7.

The scoreboard lit up on seemingly alternating possessions over the next few minutes, but the Gamecocks made a couple of 3-pointers during that stretch, so the lead grew to 10 before Hannibal blew past the whole defense to cut the lead to 51-43.

Reed got away with a clear out with his off hand, and the ensuing dunk cut the lead to 4. Carolina then got a fastbreak bucket, but Meechie Johnson left the game with what appeared to be a head injury after an inadvertant elbow.

Tyrell Ward had a big dunk and a 3-point make to bring the score to 55-54, and South Carolina took a 1-point lead into the under-4 timeout. Reed and Ward had scored 18 of LSU's last 20 points and fueled the comeback.

After the timeout, BJ Mack made a tough running hook shot but then dropped an easy rebound on the other end, giving LSU an extra possession. They took advantage (after another offensive rebound), and Ward tied the game with a 3-point jump shot. Mack earned the points back, however, sinking a triple in response to put Carolina back up 60-57.

The lead didn't last long as Myles Stute fouled Jordan Wright on a made layup. He sunk the free throw to tie the score. Ta'Lon Cooper, despite struggling offensively most of the game, calmly came down the floor and got open for a 3-pointer that put them up 63-60 with about 30 seconds left in the game.

Coach Paris was screaming for his team to foul on the next possession, but they did not, and Wright got an easy layup. Up 63-62 with 15 seconds left, BJ Mack was fouled on a trap, but Pat Adams and his officiating crew didn't call it. LSU forced a tie-up on the ill-advised sideline pass, and on the ensuing possession, Collin Murray-Boyles fouled Jordan Wright.

Wright made both foul shots to take the lead with 5 seconds left. A crazy athletic play from Murray-Boyles saved an errant long inbound pass from BJ Mack. CMB leapt up, caught the ball, and threw it off an LSU defender out of bounds to advance the ball past halfcourt and avoid the game-losing turnover.

Unfortunately for South Carolina basketball fans, the Gamecocks didn't get the look they wanted on the final shot as a step-back 3-ball from Jacobi Wright rimmed out, and the Gamecocks' 16-point 2nd-half lead officially became a collapse. Carolina lost their 2nd game in a row for the first time all season as they fell to LSU at Colonial Life Arena 64-63.

64. 529. South Carolina Basketball vs. LSU Tigers. 63. 533. Final