#Gamecocks rally falls short in 65-63 loss to Arkansas (AUDIO)

Josh Gray controlled the paint and set a career-high with 20 points, Saturday (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

COLONIAL LIFE ARENA: Despite a career-day from Josh Gray and furious second-half rally, the Gamecocks couldn’t manufacture enough plays down the stretch to avoid a 65-63 loss to Arkansas, Saturday. USC has suffered seven straight defeats since pulling an upset over Kentucky on Jan. 10th.

South Carolina (8-15, 1-9) played with great intensity from the outset but struggled on the offensive end early, shooting an anemic 33% in the first half. Gray kept the Gamecocks in it by hitting six of his first eight shots from the field en route to a career-high 20 points and 14 rebounds. While Gray was feasting in the paint, his teammates couldn’t find the range, hitting just four of 22 from the floor before the break. The result was a 36-27 halftime deficit.

Arkansas kept Carolina at arms’ length for much of the second half before Hayden Brown’s dunk sparked a 10-3 Gamecocks run. The Razorbacks, meanwhile, couldn’t find air against USC’s pressure defense, making just one shot over a six-minute span. Gray capped the rally with a dunk, giving the Gamecocks a 63-62 lead with less than two minutes remaining. The Razorbacks steadied themselves, however, and took the lead right back on a driving layup. After Meechie Johnson’s (20 points, 4 assists) shot from the top of the key sailed wide and Brown (10 points) missed on a reverse layup, Arkansas guard Anthony Black split a pair of foul shots to give his team a two-point advantage with 2.2 seconds remaining.

Head coach Lamont Paris drew up a play to get GG Jackson a look at a game-winner but the Razorbacks foiled it and Gray was forced into an off-balance 3-pointer.

The Gamecocks played with better efficiency in the second half, knocking down 50% of their shots from the field and 45.5% from behind the arc. USC also did a much better job at limiting turnovers, committing just ten after giving it up 18 times in each of the last two games. Paris implemented a 1-3-1 zone for much of the second half that threw Arkansas off-balance.

Paris acknowledged the growth of his team and said, “It was a hard one to lose. You see a lot of progress, but for the guys, particularly, they don’t get the instantaneous satisfaction of winning the game to drive those points home.”

South Carolina will get a shot at putting the brakes on its losing streak in a late tip at Missouri, Tuesday. Tipoff from the “other Columbia” is set for 9 p.m.

Final Stats

Gamecocks postgame press conferences

Head coach Lamont Paris

Josh Gray and Meechie Johnson

GG Jackson and the Gamecocks just missed on their comeback bid (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

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