Colonial Life Arena: USC spotted Western Kentucky an 8-point head start, but Meechie Johnson started to hit from downtown, and the Gamecocks turned up their defense as they rallied for a 65-58 win Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena.
Johnson scored a career high 25 points including 6-three pointers, and defensively the Gamecocks held the Hilltoppers to one field goal goals over the final 9:43. At that point they trailed 49-44. The Gamecocks then went on a 17-2 run over the next seven minutes capped by a Johnson three-point play for a 61-51 lead with 2:15 left.
The Hilltoppers got to within six twice. Hayden Brown’s dunk put USC back up 8 with :30 to play, and Chico Carter Jr. made a free throw five seconds later for the final scoring.
The Gamecocks shot just 34%, but 9 of their 22 field goals were three pointers. They also struggled from the line going 12-25. But Western Kentucky couldn’t take advantage. WKU came into the game was one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation but went just 3-22 from deep. From the line, the Hilltoppers were 15-25.
The Gamecocks did a nice job on the glass outrebounding Western Kentucky 51-31, including 17 offensive boards. GG Jackson had a career high 16 rebounds to go along with a dozen points for the second double-double of his young career.
USC snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 6-6. They will close out non-league play at home December 30th against Eastern Michigan which features one of the nation’s top players in Emmoni Bates.