Second-half surge powers Gamecocks’ series sweep of Vanderbilt. What we learned

·3 min read

For the second straight Southeastern Conference game, South Carolina’s prospects of winning looked dicey at best by halftime.

But for the second straight game, the Gamecocks dug deep and found a second-half spark to pull out a win.

Frank Martin’s Gamecocks defeated Vanderbilt for the second time this season, beating the Commodores 70-61 on Wednesday night in Colonial Life Arena. With the win, the Gamecocks moved to 12-7 (3-4 SEC) on the season as they try to climb out of an early conference season hole.

Here’s what we learned about the Gamecocks.

Another big second-half USC run

In the team’s 83-66 win over Georgia on Saturday, the Gamecocks caught fire with a 24-0 run in the second half to put away the Bulldogs.

Similarly, the Gamecocks used a 15-1 run midway through Wednesday’s second half to seize a lead against the Commodores and vault them toward a victory.

Much like in the Georgia game, the team’s veterans played a significant role in sparking the run, forcing turnovers on the defensive end to set up scoring opportunities on the fastbreak.

Veteran guard Jermaine Couisnard was once again in the thick of the action, recording a steal and scoring eight of the team’s 15 points during that run. Fellow guard Erik Stevenson made the go-ahead 3-pointer and continued to apply pressure with another 3-pointer and an explosive one-handed slam.

Couisnard finished with 14 points, Stevenson with 13. Couisnard scored 12 of his points in the second half after freshman Devin Carter drew a third straight start at point guard.

James Reese bounces back

One of the team’s more dependable shooters all season, veteran guard James Reese struggled in the team’s win over Georgia, missing all seven 3-point attempts and scoring just four points on 2-of-10 shooting.

Reese snapped back into form against the Commodores, helping get the Gamecocks jumpstarted early in the first half with back-to-back 3-pointers and pacing the Gamecocks with 10 first-half points.

He finished the game with a team-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

Pippen Jr. a tough defensive assignment

Entering the game as the SEC’s third-highest scorer with 18.1 points per game, Vandy guard Scotty Pippen Jr. is one of the toughest defensive assignments in the conference.

In the two teams’ first meeting in Nashville, Reese did a strong job bottling up Pippen Jr., holding him to just two points in the first half, and keeping him from putting up a possible game-winning shot in the final seconds of the game.

Pippen Jr. was much more difficult to contain Wednesday night, as he paced all scorers with 14 points in an explosive first half, and he kept the momentum going in the second, finishing with a game-high 24 points.

Next USC men’s basketball game

Who: South Carolina at Texas A&M

When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Reed Arena in College Station, Texas

Watch: SEC Network