Law­son’s 3s send South Car­olina past Texas A&M

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - College Basketball - BY PETE IACOBELLI As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

DWAYNE MCLEMORE Columbia (S.C.) State/TNS

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.

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