South Carolina 77, No. 13 Vanderbilt 73
South Carolina coach Darrin Horn drew the play up for his senior
in the huddle, and Devan Downey executed.
Downey came off a ball screen and hit a 3-pointer with 1:48 left
to break a 69-all tie, and South Carolina upset No. 13 Vanderbilt
77-73 on Saturday in its regular season finale. South Carolina
(15-15, 6-10) snapped a six-game skid with a victory that pushed
the Gamecocks up to the East’s fifth seed in the upcoming
Southeastern Conference tournament.
“He’s done that his whole career,” Horn said. “It’s never
about what somebody’s done something to him. It’s about, ‘It’s time
to win,’ and he’s a young man who really relishes that moment. He
made some huge plays tonight.”
Downey had just four points in the first half, but the league’s
top scorer finished with 26 in rallying the Gamecocks. The senior
said his teammates agreed to keep fighting.
“Right now, just playing for pride,” Downey said. “We got a
big win, Top 25 win on the road. We’ve just got to carry that
momentum into the SEC tournament.”
Vanderbilt (23-7, 12-4) already had the No. 2 seed in the East
locked up before blowing a 10-point lead by going cold from the
floor for 9:20. The Commodores rallied and tied it for the ninth
time at 69 on Jermaine Beal’s 3-pointer.
Downey answered with his sixth 3, Beal missed his 3-pointer and
also missed a layup on the next trip down the floor. South Carolina
hit 2 of 4 free throws, and Downey avoided being fouled in the
final seconds by passing upcourt where Stephen Spinella dunked to
seal the victory.
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said his Commodores became too
tentative once they got control of the game and too many players
didn’t show up ready to play.
“I’m not proud of it, but they’ve bounced back all season long.
I don’t have any concerns. If they don’t want to play, they’ll
lose,” Stallings said.
Sam Muldrow added 20 points and nine rebounds for South
Beal finished with 21 for Vandy in the senior’s final home game,
A.J. Ogilvy had 15 and Jeff Taylor 13. Beal finished as the
winningest four-year player in Vanderbilt history with 90 wins.
“Obviously, it’s very disappointing,” Ogilvy said. “Jermaine
has meant so much to us and to the program and of course we wanted
to send him off with the win.”
South Carolina had struggled against Vanderbilt, losing 79-69 in
Columbia on Jan. 16, and the Gamecocks came to Memorial Gym having
lost seven of the last eight in this series overall.
Downey, averaging a league-high 26.2 points, was the key as he
bounced back from a poor first half in which he hit only 2 of 9
from the floor. He had only 11 points with 10 minutes left when he
finally got going, keying a 16-0 spurt with 10 points. Downey said
assistant coach Neill Berry talked to him at halftime.
“I was getting good looks but wasn’t prepared to shoot so it
was more mental, me being ready to shoot,” Downey said.
Stallings said he knew Downey would come back on the
“He’ll come out and try and go crazy, and he did,” Stallings
Just as Downey got scoring, the Commodores went cold after John
Jenkins hit a 3-pointer with 12:21 to put them up 53-43 with 12:21
After Beal hit two free throws, Muldrow got the Gamecocks
started with a bucket, then Downey heated up. The senior hit
back-to-back 3s, stole the ball and scored on a layup and also had
a pair of free throws that pushed South Carolina up 64-57. Downey’s
bucket with 4:10 to go pushed the lead to 68-59.
Vanderbilt finally started scoring again. Ogilvy hit a pair of
free throws, then Jenkins hit a 3, ending a drought that stretched
A sellout crowd tried to scream the Commodores to victory on a
home-court where they had been 14-1 this season, but they couldn’t
counter Downey. The senior threw his entire body into launching a 3
that put the Gamecocks ahead to stay for good.
Beal scored on a pair of layups that just weren’t enough as time
South Carolina wound up outshooting Vanderbilt 49.1 percent to
42.9 percent, while out-rebounding the Commodores 33-28.
Blame the early afternoon tipoff or simply sloppy play, but the
teams swapped the lead seven times with five ties in the first half
of a physical start – the two teams averaged more than a foul per
Four Gamecocks had at least three fouls each with 10 minutes
left, while three Commodores had three apiece before the teams
finished with a combined 40 fouls.