Jermaine Couisnard’s performance sent shockwaves through the Colonial Life Arena as the veteran guard’s 33-point outburst sparked South Carolina’s 77-75 come-from-behind victory over LSU, Saturday. The USC faithful were raucous and energetic throughout the second half as the Gamecocks clawed their way past one of the SEC’s best teams.
LSU appeared to be in command, leading by 11 in the second half, before the Gamecocks went on a 21-9 run that culminated in a Ta’Quan Woodley dunk that served to both electrify the crowd and give USC its first lead since the opening minute. The Tigers grabbed the advantage right back, however, as South Carolina turned it over three times in the next four possessions and failed to make a shot from the field for over six minutes. But with 1:38 remaining, Couisnard picked off an errant pass at midcourt and passed ahead to Keyshawn Bryant. Bryant’s off-balance pass to Erik Stevenson resulted in a layup and a 76-73 Gamecocks lead. From there, Frank Martin’s group stood its ground to close out the win.
Couisnard (12-18 FG’s, 5-10 3-pointers) did most of the heavy lifting offensively, but it took a total team effort to slow LSU on the other end of the floor. Bryant drew praise from Martin for his energy, rebounding and defensive play. Wildens Leveque blocked two shots and James Reese V, Stevenson and Couisnard combined for seven steals.
The Gamecocks (16-10, 7-7) were forced into a faster pace by LSU’s pressure defense. That played right into Couisnard’s hands. The Tigers forced 20 turnovers but were made to pay with 27 fast break points. Couisnard said, “My teammates kept telling me to be aggressive, be aggressive, and that’s when I’m at my best, in transition.”
South Carolina will put its three-game winning streak on the line against Mississippi State, Wednesday. Tipoff from the Colonial Life Arena is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.