USC scored the first six points of overtime and went on to defeat Arkansas 81-74 Wednesday night at the Colonial Life Arena. With the win, the Gamecocks take over first place in the SEC East with a 3-1 record. It’s their best start in league play since a 5-1 start in 2004, the last time USC reached the NCAA Tournament.
Ramon Galloway led the Gamecocks with 21 points off the bench, one off his career high. Sam Muldrow added 20 points including five straight during a crucial point in overtime when the Gamecocks built their lead. Muldrow also contributed 8 rebounds and 6 blocks. It’s his straight big scoring game against Arkansas. He scored 23 points in a loss last season. Marshawn Powell led Arkansas with a career high 21 points.
USC led 35-30 at halftime but a three minute scoring drought starting with 13:38 to play allowed the Razorbacks to build a nine point lead, and it appeared they would break their four game losing streak in Columbia. A three point play by Lakeem Jackson got the Gamecocks rolling again and they pulled within a point with 7:30 to play.
USC never got the lead the rest of regulation but by holding Arkansas scoreless over the final 2:30 minutes, they were able to make up a five point deficit and force overtime. A three pointer by Ramon Galloway cut the lead to two, and pair of free throws by Malik Cooke tied the game at 70 with 1:32 to play. Neither team scored the rest of the way.
The Gamecocks continued the tight defense in overtime holding Arkansas scoreless for the first 3:40. By then USC led by six and Arkansas could get no closer than four the rest of the way.
USC won the rebounding battle 41-36 including 19 offensive boards. That led to 16 second chance points and 18 more field goal attempts.
USC is now 12-5, 3-1 and will host Kentucky Saturday night at 6:00 PM. The Gamecocks are 10-1 at home this season. Arkansas is 12-5, 2-2 and will play at Florida Saturday at 7:00.