Chris Silva made big plays in the final minutes of an 18-point, 12-rebound performance, and South Carolina cooled the No. 20 Florida with a 77-72 victory Wednesday at Exactech Arena in Gainesville, Florida.
Silva had a two-handed power jump and hit a face-up jump shot in the last four minutes to help the Gamecocks (13-7, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) stop the Gators, who had won eight of his previous nine.
Wesley Myers scored 22 points and landed five of South Carolina's 11 triple-pointers in the rematch of last season's Elite 8 showdown between SEC rivals. The Gamecocks also got the best of the Gators in that, and reached the first Final Four of the program. It's been a round-trip season for the Frank Martin club, but on Tuesday it was one of Gamecocks' biggest wins.
Egor Koulechov and Jalen Hudson had 16 points apiece, and KeVaughn Allen finished with 15 points for the Gators (14-6, 6-2 SEC).
The teams exchanged races in the first half. Hudson hit a 3-pointer that gave Florida a 21-10 lead at the 11-minute mark. The Gamecocks fought from beyond the arch. Justin Minaya hit a 3-pointer to tie the score 32-32 with three minutes left before half-time.
The Gamecocks took an advantage of 39-37 in the intermission, but it would not last long.
Florida opened the second half with an 11-0 run to take the 48-39 lead. Allen hit two early triples to fuel the Gators' momentum.
South Carolina would not leave, however. Myers scored a triple to reactivate the return of Gamecocks. The visitors regained the lead midway through the second half on a jump shot by Maik Kotsar and then had all the momentum when Silva threw his outstanding dunk to give the Gamecocks a five-point lead with 3:30 to play.
South Carolina hosts No. 14 Texas Tech on Saturday, as part of the Big 12 / SEC Challenge. The Gators will host Baylor on Saturday mid-season, in a non-conference event.
– Field Level Media