Lawson’s 3s send South Carolina past Texas A&M
South Carolina coach Frank Martin has a simple explanation for his team’s sudden surge from the outside – the play of forward Chris Silva around the basket.
Martin said Silva has been a take-charge player down low, causing opponents to send several players inside to slow him down and opening up the outside for the Gamecocks to make some shots.
That’s been the case, particularly lately. A.J. Lawson had 23 points, including six of South Carolina’s program record-tying 16 3-pointers, in an 84-77 win over Texas A&M on Saturday.
“We’re learning how to play around him,” Martin said of his outside shooters.
The results speak for themselves. The Gamecocks (13-12, 8-4 SEC) have made 40 of 69 3pointers in the last three games, two of them comefrom-behind victories over Arkansas last Saturday and the Aggies.
“We’ve been working on it,” Lawson said.
Silva, who had 22 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, echoes his teammate’s sentiments, saying the outside boost makes South Carolina “very dangerous and makes me feel like I’m not alone.”
The Gamecocks trailed by double digits in the first half and were down 45-35 after Savion Flagg opened the second half for Texas A&M with a 3-pointer. Tre Campbell quickly answer- ed for the Gamecocks to start a 29-15 run over the next 13 minutes and take control.
It kept South Carolina’s surprising SEC run going as the team that lost to mid-majors Stony Brook and Wofford in November and was just 5-7 entering league play is challenging for one of the conference’s top four spots – and the double-bye in the SEC Tournament that brings.
Lawson hit 6 of 7 from behind the arc overall as the Gamecocks shot 51.6 percent (16 of 31) from distance.
“When the other team makes 16 threes, it’s hard to win on their floor,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.
Texas A&M (10-13, 3-9) saw its two-game win streak end.
Flagg led the Aggies with 24 points and Wendell Mitchell had 20.
South Carolina tied the school mark for most 3pointers in a game – set against Campbell in November 2007. Hassani Gravett sank four 3s and scored 18.
The Aggies came in winning consecutive SEC games for the first time this season with victories over Missouri and Georgia. And they started this one like they didn’t want the run of success to end.
Mitchell had a 3-pointer and a three-point play in the first two minutes to lead a 24-12 start. Mitchell’s third 3 of the half, with 5:27 to play, gave Texas A&M its biggest lead at 34-21.
That’s when the Gamecocks, behind the 6-foot-9 Silva, finally got things going. Silva skied for an alley-oop off a feed from Gravett, then followed with a 3-pointer to start the charge. South Carolina closed a 14-4 surge on Silva’s bucket that cut things to 38-35 in the half’s final minute.
But Josh Nebo put back a missed shot and TJ Starks went for a breakaway layup in the final 25 seconds to put the Aggies up 42-35 at the break.
A.J. Lawson had 23 points off six of South Carolina’s program record-tying 16 3-pointers to rally past Texas A&M 84-77 on Saturday.