USC appeared to have Thursday night’s game with UAB at the Colonial Life Arena well in hand, until it wasn’t. The Blazers rallied from sixteen points down with 8:59 to play and got as close as a single point in the last minute, but freshman Devin Carter made four free throws in the final five seconds and the Gamecocks held on for a 66-63 win.
USC went up 54-38 with 8:59 to play after a pair of free throws by Wildens Leveque. The Gamecocks went over four minutes without a basket and that opened the door for UAB to make a run. By that point, the lead was down to four and what looked like a snoozer became a nailbiter.
While UAB was rallying the Gamecocks were scuffling. They committed seven turnovers during that stretch and missed five of their last seven shots. The Gamecocks led by just one with 1:02 left. Carter and Jermaine Couisnard missed jumpers and the Blazers came down the floor with a chance to take the lead. But Jordan Walker missed a layup with five seconds left and Carter was fouled. He made both free throws for a three-point lead.
Frank Martin decided to foul instead of giving the Blazers a shot at a three-pointer. Walker hit both shots to trim the lead back to one with two seconds to play. Carter was fouled on the in-bounds pass and hit two more from the line. A desperation shot by Quan Jackson was off the mark and the Gamecocks had their third win in four games.
USC won despite 22 turnovers that led to 21 points. The Gamecocks did make eight three-pointers, half of them by James Reese, and knocked down 14 of 20 from the line. Erik Stevenson led the Gamecocks with 15 points, one of four double-figure scorers.