A Covid-induced 27 day break between games ended for USC Saturday afternoon at the Colonial Life Arena, and playing shorthanded, the Gamecocks gutted out a 78-71 win over Florida A&M to even their record on the season at 2-2. The Gamecocks last played on December 5th and since then had five games canceled or postponed. Not to mention lost practice time. And they played Saturday with Keyshawn Bryant, TJ Moss, Alanzo Frink, Jalyn McCreary and Nathan Nelson. But AJ Lawson came up big Saturday with 25 points to lead the Gamecocks to the win.
The Gamecocks led 38-35 at halftime, and the second half was tight throughout. The Rattlers actually lead 66-65 with 6:42 to play. But Lawson nailed a three off the fastbreak to put the Gamecocks back up for good. Jermaine Couisnard scored six in a row for the Gamecocks to make it a five point lead with 3:22 left. A&M got a jumper to close to within three with 1:38 to play, but that would be the final points for the Rattlers. The Gamecocks sealed the win with four free throws in the final 40 seconds.
Couisnard added 15 points and Justin Minaya had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Gamecocks scored 40 points in the paint and had 14 offensive rebounds they turned into 14 second chance points. They also forced 18 turnovers.
USC will play its SEC opener Wednesday night at home against Texas A&M. It will be a 9:00 PM team on ESPNU.