Facing arguably its stiffest test of the season, USC fended off Vanderbilt in a hard fought SEC battle that kept the 20th ranked Gamecocks unbeaten. USC is 15-0 and 2-0 in the SEC after a 69-65 win in front of a near capacity crowd at Colonial Life Arena Saturday afternoon.
Vanderblilt scored the first eight points of the game and managed to nurse that lead for the rest of the half and deep into the second half. USC didn’t take it’s first lead until the 10:55 point of the second half on a P.J. Dozier jump shot that broke a 49-49 tie. USC never trailed again and had a lead for the rest of the game, sans a brief :31 when the game was tied.
Sindarius Thornwell did a lot of the heavy lifting for the Gamecocks with 19 points and eight rebounds. Mindaugas Kacinas had 13 points, the only other double digit scorer for the Gamecocks.
It might not show in the record book, but this was one of the better, if not the best team, USC has faced this season. Vanderbilt has a lot of talent and started the season as a top 25 team. They fell out of the rankings after losses against top notch teams like Kansas and Baylor. They are off to a frigid start in SEC play though, 0-3 now with losses against LSU, Arkansas in overtime and USC. Kevin Stallings has dealt with some key injuries and said after the game his team is looking for confidence after these tough losses.
- Neither team shot very well from the free throw line; the Gamecocks shot 18-30 (60%) and Vanberbilt 20-29 (69%).
- Vanderbilt shot just 33% from the floor. USC finished the game at 42%.
- Foul trouble was an issue for Vanderbilt, Damien Jones, arguable their best player, was in foul trouble for most of the game and eventually fouled out. He only played 16 minutes. Despite the lack of action he still managed 12 points and six rebounds. Wade Baldwin and Nolan Cressler also fouled out.
- Vanderbilt’s eight point lead is the biggest deficit USC has faced this season. The Commodores led by eight early in the second half, too. The Gamecocks trailed for 28:17 of the game.
- The announced attendance was 15,055.