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Analysis: Թϱ men's basketball wins nail-biter after surrendering 13-point lead in 2nd half

<p>FILE - Junior guard Meechie Johnson looks across the court during South Carolina’s game against LSU at Colonial Life Arena on Feb. 17, 2024. Johnson had four assists and one steal in 26 minutes of play during the Gamecocks' 64-63 loss to the Tigers.</p>
FILE - Junior guard Meechie Johnson looks across the court during Թϱ’s game against LSU at Colonial Life Arena on Feb. 17, 2024. Johnson had four assists and one steal in 26 minutes of play during the Gamecocks' 64-63 loss to the Tigers.

The No. 18 Թϱ men's basketball team won a 70-68 thriller against the Texas A&M Aggies on Wednesday at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.

"Really proud of our guys for doing enough things to come out on top," head coach Lamont Paris said. "(They) handled some adversity, missed some free throws, got in foul trouble — a lot of different things, but we did what we needed to do when it came time to make a couple plays."

The Gamecocks got off to a hot start, leading for the entire first half and heading into the break with a 32-29 lead. Թϱ converted 12 of its 23 shot attempts in the first half, including four of 10 from three.

Junior guard Meechie Johnson led the team with 10 points in the first half. Sophomore guard Zachary Davis also poured in 6 first-half points along with two rebounds.

"(I) thought Zach Davis did some great things," Paris said."Meechie did some incredible stuff. He made some incredible plays, some incredible passes."

The Aggies struggled to shoot the ball in the first half, shooting 30% from the field and failing to make a single 3-point shot. The veteran backcourt duo of junior guard Wade Taylor IV and graduate student guard Tyrece Radford combined for 15 first-half points.

Թϱ would also strike first in the second half, scoring the first 6 points and forcing Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams to call an early timeout. The Gamecocks' lead would eventually grow to 13 with just over 14 minutes left.

But Texas A&M would immediately respond, going on a 17-1 run. Sophomore forward Solomon Washington converted a 3-point shot to give the Aggies a 50-47 lead with over eight minutes left, its first lead of the game.

The Aggies used the free-throw line to get back in the game, as it went 11 for 11 from the line in the second half compared to Թϱ's two of 7. Junior guard Manny Obaseki gave Texas A&M a nice burst off the bench with 9 points. The Aggies also shot the ball better in the second half, going 13 of 27 from the field.

The Gamecocks obtained 11 second-half points from graduate guard Ta'Lon Cooper, who went three for six from 3-point range.

Down the stretch, Թϱ would go on an 11-2 run to build a 68-61 lead with just two minutes remaining. But Texas A&M would storm back and tie the game at 68 after Taylor IV made a layup with nine seconds left.

With time running down, Johnson found Davis for a layup, which gave the Gamecocks a 70-68 lead. Davis' shot proved to be the game-winner as the Aggies failed to get a shot off in the final three seconds.

"We had good pace as we brought the ball up the floor. We had the ball in the hands of a good decision-maker," Paris said about the game-winner.

Johnson would finish the game with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists. Davis would finish with 16 points. Freshman forward Collin Murray-Boyles had another strong game as well, earning 8 points and 12 rebounds.

Թϱ moves to 23-5 on the season and will have its first of two consecutive home games on Saturday, March 2, against No. 24 Florida. Tip-off is set for noon at Colonial Life Arena, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.


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