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South Carolina holds off Charleston Southern

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Meechie Johnson’s three free throws with 1:39 left in the game gave South Carolina the breathing room it needed to hang on for a 73-69 victory over spunky Charleston Southern on Saturday night in Columbia, S.C.

Johnson free throws put the Gamecocks (9-1) up 70-62, and he sealed the deal by making two more with 6.3 seconds left to finish the game with 15 points. He and B.J. Mack with 16 points were the only double-figure scorers for South Carolina.

Taje’ Kelly posted a season-high 22 points to lead four double-figure scorers for the Bucs (3-7). A’Iahn Sumler added 15 and RJ Johnson and DJ Patrick had 13 each.

The Gamecocks doubled a three-point halftime lead to 48-42 just over five minutes into the second period, but the Bucs erased that with a 7-0 spurt over the next two minutes to move ahead by one.

The Gamecocks went into a 2-of-15 shooting slump before hitting three shots in a row to regain their six-point cushion at 59-53 with 8:22 left in the game.

South Carolina led the rest of the way but never by more than eight points and the visitors were within one at 61-60 with just over five minutes remaining.

Rebounding, particularly down the stretch, helped key the win for the Gamecocks. They won the boards 39-26 and had a 15-7 advantage at the offensive end that helped produce a 19-11 advantage in second-chance points.

The Gamecocks also enjoyed a 24-6 advantage in bench points

After a hot-shooting 65.4-percent first half, the Gamecocks cooled in the second and finished the game 29-of-63 from the field (46 percent). The Bucs were 28-of-58 from the field (48.3) for the game.

The two teams battled on even terms throughout the first half. The Gamecocks’ biggest lead was five points three times over the last 4:42 of the period and they went into the break up 39-36 after making 50 percent 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

The Bucs had a couple of 3-point advantages midway through the half and made their final four attempts to finish 16-of-29 (55.2 percent) overall and 3-of-8 on 3-pointers (37.5).

–Field Level Media

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