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South Carolina makes key adjustments, holds off Florida State at the buzzer

ROCK HILL, S.C. – “We got a good look. Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don’t.”

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton described as succinctly as possible a chaotic final seven seconds in which his Seminoles had a shot to leave South Carolina with a late victory. Instead, though, Malik Osborne’s final three-point attempt harmlessly fell away, giving South Carolina a 66-65 victory in the final game of the No Room for Racism Classic in Rock Hill.

“I’m just really, really proud of our guys,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said after the game. “Earlier in the year, we couldn’t make in-game adjustments, just because we had so many first-year guys. The bottom line was that we started defending. We didn’t defend the first ten minutes of the game. We started defending and rebounding the ball, and that’s our bread and butter.”

Florida State (5-4) built a quick lead on the Gamecocks, extending its advantage to double digits just six minutes into the contest. A 21-5 Seminole run pushed the margin to 16, capped by a Matthew Cleveland bucket at the 10:57 mark of the half. South Carolina (7-2) answered, chipping away at the lead until a Devin Carter jumper brought the game within single digits.

Carter continued to provide a jolt of energy for his Gamecock side, converting an and-one on the ensuing possession to draw Carolina within five. South Carolina had a look at the horn to draw the game within four, but the try would not fall. The Gamecocks did, however, hold Florida State without a made field goal after a John Butler jumper at the 6:29 mark of the period.

Both sides struggled from distance in the opening stanza, converting just 4-of-16 total tries. South Carolina finally evened out an early Florida State advantage in getting to the free throw line but could convert on just 5-of-10 attempts from the stripe.

James Reese splashed home a triple on the first Gamecock possession of the second half to bring South Carolina back within a single possession. Malik Osborne broke the Florida State dry spell with a thunderous dunk shortly thereafter, only to see the Gamecocks counter on the other end and force a turnover.

A Florida State run opened the lead back to nine, only for South Carolina to storm back with a 7-0 burst of its own to draw the game within a single basket. Carolina had a chance to tie fall by the wayside courtesy of an offensive foul, but ten points in a row from Reese converted a six-point Gamecock deficit into a four-point advantage.

“The coaches always tell me to shoot when I’m open,” said Reese of his performance. “My teammates just found me. I started playing really hard and the ball just ended up in my hands and going in the basket.”

FSU continued its icy stretch in the second half, hitting just four of its first 15 shots in the second half. The four-plus minute run without a bucket enabled South Carolina to open up a bit of separation on the Seminoles. A 7-0 FSU run again drew the game level, with Anthony Polite hitting two free throws to cap the burst.

South Carolina took possession with 38 seconds remaining, with Florida State opting to play straight-up defense down just a point. The Gamecocks had a look at a late basket that would have put them ahead three, but Keyshawn Bryant’s try at the tin was cleanly contested by Osborne. The Seminoles seized the rebound, then called for a stoppage to set up their final play.

The Seminoles set up their final possession to get a clean look at the basket. Osborne broke free at the top of the key and took a pass, but his final try would not go.

“We have a number of situational things that we work on on a regular basis. There were seven seconds on the clock – if he couldn’t get in the lane and try to draw a foul or get a good look, we had three spots for him to look to – on both spots and behind,” Hamilton said. “The best opportunity was behind him.

“You’ve gotta give Frank credit. It almost would have been disappointing – it was almost unfair to Frank. I thought they played well. They had taken advantage of our youth and inexperience. They had made some adjustments that had caused us to pause a little bit. This was a good game for us to learn from, evaluate, and move forward. I wish we would have won the game, but I think Frank earned it and deserved it.”

Carter led South Carolina and all scorers with 16 points in 24 minutes off the bench. The freshman knocked down 6-of-12 shots. Reese added 13, with Wildens Leveque tallying 10. The Gamecocks shot 44.1 percent (26-for-59) from the floor, including 50 percent in the second half.

Osborne led FSU with 15 points on 4-for-8 from the deck. Caleb Mills contributed 13. The Seminoles were just 7-for-22 (31.8 percent) in the second stanza, finishing the game at 37.3 percent (19-for-51).

South Carolina returns to the floor at home Tuesday night for a 7:00 tip against Allen. That game will be streamed on SEC Network+. Florida State is off until Wednesday when it welcomes Lipscomb to the Tucker Center in Tallahassee. That game will tip at 9:00 (Eastern) and be shown on the ACC Network.


FLORIDA STATE (5-4): Evans 1-6 2-2 4, Polite 1-4 6-6 9, Mills 4-13 5-5 13, Osborne 4-8 4-6 15, Butler 3-5 1-2 8, Warley 3-5 1-2 8, Fletcher 0-1 0-0 0, McLeod 1-1 1-3 3, Wilkes 0-1 0-0 0, Cleveland 2-7 1-2 5. Totals 19-51 21-28 65.

SOUTH CAROLINA (7-2): Reese 5-9 0-0 13, Wright 0-6 0-0 0, Stevenson 2-9 0-0 5, Wilson 1-2 0-0 2, Leveque 3-3 4-6 10, C. Carter 4-7 0-0 8, Minott 0-1 0-2 0, Martin 0-1 0-0 0, D. Carter 6-12 4-7 16, Bryant 3-7 1-3 7, Gray 1-1 1-2 3, Woodley 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-59 10-20 66.

Halftime — Florida State 36-30. 3-Point Goals—Florida State 6-21 (Evans 0-1, Polite 1-3, Mills 0-3, Osborne 3-6, Butler 1-3, Warley 1-1, Fletcher 0-1, Wilkes 0-1, Cleveland 0-2), South Carolina 4-14 (Reese 3-4, Wright 0-2, Stevenson 1-4, C. Carter 0-1, D. Carter 0-2, Bryant 0-1). Fouled Out — NA. Rebounds — South Carolina 41 (D. Carter 7), Florida State 33 (Osborne 9). Assists —Florida State 8 (Polite 4, South Carolina 7 (Stevenson 4). Total Fouls — South Carolina 22, Florida State 21. Technical — NA. A —1523.


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