NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Devan Downey hit a 3-pointer with 1:48
left to break a tie at 69, and South Carolina held on to upset No.
13 Vanderbilt 77-73 on Saturday in its regular season finale.
South Carolina (15-15, 6-10) snapped a six-game skid with a
victory that might push the Gamecocks up to the East's fifth seed
in the upcoming Southeastern Conference tournament. Downey had just
four points in the first half, but the league's top scorer finished
with 26 in rallying the Gamecocks.
Vanderbilt (23-7, 12-4) already had the No. 2 seed in the East
locked up before blowing a 10-point lead by going cold from the
floor for 9:20. The Commodores rallied and tied it for the ninth
time at 69 on Jermaine Beal's 3-pointer.
Downey answered with his sixth 3, Beal missed his 3-pointer and
also missed a layup on the next trip down the floor. South Carolina
hit 2 of 4 free throws to seal the victory.
Sam Muldrow added 20 points for South Carolina.
Beal finished with 21 for Vandy in the senior's final home game,
A.J. Ogilvy had 15 and Jeff Taylor 13.
South Carolina had struggled against Vanderbilt, losing 79-69 in
Columbia on Jan. 16, and the Gamecocks came to Memorial Gym having
lost seven of the last eight in this series overall.
Downey, averaging a league-high 26.2 points, was the key as he
bounced back from a poor first half in which he hit only 2 of 9
from the floor. He had only 11 points with 10 minutes left when he
finally got going, keying a 16-0 spurt with 10 points.
Just as Downey got scoring, the Commodores went cold after John
Jenkins hit a 3-pointer with 12:21 to put them up 53-43 with 12:21
After Beal hit two free throws, Muldrow got the Gamecocks
started with a bucket, then Downey heated up. The senior hit
back-to-back 3s, stole the ball and scored on a layup and also had
a pair of free throws that pushed South Carolina up 64-57. Downey's
bucket with 4:10 to go pushed the lead to 68-59.
Vanderbilt finally started scoring again. Ogilvy hit a pair of
free throws, then Jenkins hit a 3, ending a drought that stretched
A sellout crowd tried to scream the Commodores to victory on a
home-court where they had been 14-1 this season, but they couldn't
counter Downey. The senior threw his entire body into launching a 3
that put the Gamecocks ahead to stay for good.
Beal scored on a pair of layups that just weren't enough as time
South Carolina wound up outshooting Vanderbilt 49.1 percent to
42.9 percent, while out-rebounding the Commodores 33-28.
Blame the early afternoon tipoff or simply sloppy play, but the
teams swapped the lead seven times with five ties in the first half
of a physical start - the two teams averaged more than a foul per
Four Gamecocks had at least three fouls each with 10 minutes
left, while three Commodores had three apiece before the teams
finished with a combined 40 fouls.