Gamecocks top Cyclones in first top-10 win since 2010

blockOn its biggest stage of the season so far, it was an old standby that would help South Carolina notch a signature win Saturday night, beating No. 9 Iowa State 64-60 at the Barclays Center in New York City. The Gamecocks (9-3) used a stingy defense to limit the Cyclones (10-2) to their lowest-scoring game since Jan. 23, 2013 while clinching its first win over a top-ten opponent since the 2009-10 season.

The Gamecocks came out firing from the opening tip, streaking out to a 15-4 lead through the first five minutes of the game. That burst was led by Tyrone Johnson, who scored nine of those 15 points for the hot start, making three straight field goals and adding in a pair of free throws.

The Cyclones answered with a run to cut the deficit to 20-17, but another 12-3 run would give Carolina the game’s biggest lead at 32-20. Foul troubles would weaken the frontcourt attack for the Gamecocks, and Iowa State would take advantage with a strong transition offense that cut into the lead and would enter the halftime break down just one point, 36-35.

Coming out of the break the lead would never go higher than six points as every basket would come at a premium. The Gamecocks would score the first two baskets of the half, but Iowa State would remain in striking distance and would finally take its first lead of the game with a 9-2 run that turned a 45-39 deficit into a 48-47 lead.

The lead was traded back and forth on the ensuing possessions before the Gamecocks found themselves down 51-49 with 6:30 to play in the game. Playing shorthanded with foul troubles, Carolina would flip the momentum with a quick 7-0 run over the next two minutes for the 56-51 lead.

After Mindaugas Kacinas and Laimonas Chatkevicius each picked up their fifth fouls to leave the game with a 58-56 lead and two minutes to play, Sindarius Thornwell would provide a trio of clutch plays that would seal the win. The first was an old-fashioned 3-point play with 1:51 to go gave Carolina a five-point lead 61-56.

He followed with another layup as the shot clock was winding down for a 63-57 lead and just a minute to play. After Iowa State got within one possession and had the ball looking for the tie, Thornwell made the steal and hit a free throw to seal the win thanks to the four-point advantage.

South Carolina’s three starting guards – Johnson, Thornwell and Duane Notice combined to score 41 of the team’s 64 total points. Johnson (Plainfield, N.J.) and Notice (Woodbridge, Ontario) were playing in front of a large group of family and friends, as was Brooklyn native Shamiek Sheppard, who played in his second game back from injury.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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