By PETE IACOBELLI , AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A.J. Lawson had 23 points off six of South Carolina’s program record-tying 16 3-pointers to rally past Texas A&M 84-77 on Saturday.
The Gamecocks (13-12, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) trailed by double digits in the first half and were down 45-35 after Savion Flagg opened the second half for Texas A&M with a 3-pointer. Tre Campbell quickly answered for the Gamecocks to start a 29-15 run over the next 13 minutes to take control.
Lawson, the 6-foot-6 freshman, led the way with 13 points after halftime, going 4 of 4 from behind the arc for his second game with 20 or more points in the past three contests.
Chris Silva added 22 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks as South Carolina continued its surprise run in the SEC. Just 5-7 entering league play, the Gamecocks came in tied for fourth in the SEC.
Texas A&M (10-13, 3-9) saw its two-game win streak end.
Flagg led the Aggies with 24 points and Wendell Mitchell had 20.
South Carolina finished 16 of 31 from behind the arc and tied the school mark for most in a game set against Campbell in November 2007. Hassani Gravett had 18 points off four 3-pointers.
The Aggies came in winning consecutive SEC games for the first time this season with victories over Missouri and Georgia. And they started this one like they didn’t want the run of success to end.
Mitchell had a 3-pointer and a three-point play in the first two minutes to lead a 24-12 start. Mitchell’s third 3 of the half with 5:27 to play gave Texas A&M its biggest lead at 34-21.
That’s when the Gamecocks, behind the 6-foot-9 Silva, finally got things going. Silva skied for an alley-oop off a feed from Gravett, then followed with a 3-pointer to start the charge. South Carolina closed a 14-4 surge on Silva’s bucket that cut things to 38-35 in the half’s final minute.
But Josh Nebo put back a missed shot and TJ Starks went for a breakaway layup in the final 25 seconds to put the Aggies up 42-35 at the break.
Texas A&M: The Aggies have struggled much of SEC play and showed some life early on at South Carolina. But Texas A&M could not handle the Gamecocks hot outside shooting or contain Silva on the inside. TJ Starks, a normally reliable shooter off the bench, had trouble finding his shooting touch, making just six of 14 attempts and missing all three of his 3-point tries.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have gotten into a bit of a habit in falling behind and charging back. They were down 13 points in the second half against Arkansas last week before coming back to win. They overcame a similar double-digit deficit in the second half here, too.
Texas A&M returns home to play Alabama on Tuesday night.
South Carolina ends a two-game home stand with Mississippi on Tuesday night.
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