By JEFFREY COLLINS , Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Freshman A.J. Lawson scored 24 points and fellow freshman Keyshawn Bryant added 17 as South Carolina beat Arkansas 77-65 on Saturday.
The Gamecocks (12-11, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) trailed by 13 with 15:30 to go when the talented duo took over.
Lawson hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Bryant had slashing drives. And when Lawson found Bryant soaring for an alley-oop, the Gamecocks were up 59-54 with 8:45 left
Arkansas (14-9, 5-5) had one last run, taking a 61-59 lead with six minutes left. But Lawson, Bryant and senior Chris Silva helped South Carolina end the game on an 18-4 run.
The Gamecocks made 16 of their last 22 shots and made 10 of 15 3-pointers.
Lawson and Bryant scored 31 of South Carolina’s 46 second-half points.
Jalen Harris led Arkansas with 17 points, while Mason Jones added 15 points. Daniel Gafford scored eight points — his lowest output of the season.
The Razorbacks forced 21 turnovers, one off South Carolina’s season high of 22 against Florida. The Gamecocks won that one, too.
With Jones’ early 3-pointer, Arkansas has hit a 3-pointer in each of its last 1,000 games, the fifth-longest streak in the country. UNLV is tops at 1,067 games.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks started the day ranked No. 60 in the NCAA’s new NET rankings, which is replacing the RPI as a tool to choose at-large NCAA Tournament teams. This loss will drop them. Arkansas is out of most projected brackets, but usually land near the bubble in either the first four or next four out. The Razorbacks best nonconference win was a home victory over Indiana.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are trying hard to make an intriguing at-large NCAA Tournament case. A 5-8 nonconference record usually is a killer, but the Gamecocks are fourth in the SEC and if they can get through the rest of the league season with only one or two more losses should at least be discussed as a bubble team. The NCAA’s new NET rankings don’t like them. They are 111th and their best nonconference win is over 153rd ranked Coastal Carolina. The key for South Carolina may be to stay in the SEC’s top four and get a double bye in the league tournament so only three wins are needed for the automatic NCAA bid.
South Carolina sophomore forward Justin Minaya won’t play the rest of the season.
Coach Frank Martin said Minaya will use a medical redshirt after hurting his right knee in practice on Nov. 25. He had been trying to get back on the court.
Minaya averaged 7.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in the five games he played this season.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks head to Missouri on Tuesday
South Carolina: The Gamecocks get a shot at the biggest win they can get as they play Wednesday at No. 1 Tennessee