25th Ranked South Carolina Upsets 8th Ranked Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS (USC SID) – The No. 25/23 South Carolina men’s basketball team earned its signature win of an already sterling season Saturday afternoon, upsetting No.8 Texas A&M on its home court, 81-78. The win gives Carolina (20-3, 7-3 SEC) its first 20-win season since 2008-09 and its first win ever in College Station. Sindarius Thornwell flirted with a triple-double in the victory, scoring a season-high 25 points with nine assists and six rebounds.
It was South Carolina’s first road win against a ranked opponent since 2010, and the first over a top 10 team since 2006.
Texas A&M (18-5, 7-3) opened the game with a haymaker, taking an 8-0 lead and forcing a timeout before two minutes had come off the clock. The Gamecocks were able to not just survive the open to the game, but would flip the script in short order and took their first lead at 12-11 less than four minutes later. That early comeback expanded out over a 17-5 run from 15:25 until nine minutes remained, and it would be Carolina that forced a timeout after a Sindarius Thornwell 3-pointer made it 24-16. The Aggies went 2-of-7 from the field and committed four turnovers during that time period, including three turnovers in a span of just over a minute.
After tightening up its ball control, Texas A&M fought back in the closing six minutes. A 3 from Alex Caruso gave the home team a brief 27-25 lead before Michael Carrera answered him with a 3 on the other end. All told, the two sides traded the lead back and forth seven times in the last four minutes of the half, but it would be Aggies who would hold the 41-40 advantage when the final horn sounded.
The Gamecocks made five of their final six attempts from the field, and were led in scoring by Thornwell’s 14 points. The final stretch was a microcosm for just how locked in both offenses were in the final section of the period. The Aggies shot 52 percent overall and 57 percent from 3 (8-of-14), Carolina was an even 50 percent from the field and made an eye-popping 7-of-10 3s.
Texas A&M took a 55-50 lead six minutes into the second half, but the Gamecocks leaned on their experience from early in the game and would not shy away. After Carolina tied things up at 57, the Aggies again pushed ahead by two possessions but were reeled in again. This time, though, it would be the Gamecocks who seized control of the game.
Back-to-back scores from Mindaugas Kacinas put the visitors ahead 68-65, and a 11-0 run out of a 70-68 A&M lead gave the Gamecocks their largest lead of the night with just 2:24 left on the clock. Thornwell scored the final four points of that run, but it would not decide the game just yet.
The Aggies methodically chipped away at the lead with an 8-1 run that spanned just over two minutes. Alex Caruso’s three-point play with 20 seconds remaining in regulation sent the fans at Reed Arena into a frenzy. Nursing just a 80-78 lead and needing to inbound the ball off Caruso’s free throw, the Gamecocks got the ball in and Carrera would make one of two free throws on the other end. PJ Dozier pulled down a missed 3 in Texas A&M’s attempt to tie the game up one more time, but Carolina threw the ball away with just four seconds on the clock. The Aggies would not be able to take advantage, turning the ball over in their final possession.
GAMECHANGER
After the lead yo-yoed back and forth for almost the entire second half, the Gamecocks used a decisive 11-0 run to take the lead for good. It started with a jumper from PJ Dozier with 7:04 left to play, and Thornwell bookended it with baskets in back-to-back possessions. His last make of the run came with 2:24 to play.
KEY STAT
The Gamecocks made a season-high 12 3-pointers in the game, and shot it from deep at a 57-percent success rate. They were able to erase a big first-half deficit with seven makes in the first half, then made five more in key points of the second half. Two from Michael Carrera early on in the second half kept the Aggies from running away with the lead, and another 3 from Carrera with 4:16 to play gave the Gamecocks a two-possession lead (75-70)
UP NEXT
After two-straight league road games Carolina returns to Columbia next week for a pair at Colonial Life Arena. First, Ben Simmons and the LSU Tigers visit town for a 7 p.m. ET matchup on Wednesday, Feb. 10, before Kentucky travels to Columbia on Saturday, Feb. 13, for a noon contest. A limited number of tickets remain for the LSU contest, but the Kentucky game is sold out.
NOTABLE
• This is the 16th 20-win season in program history.
• Michael Carrera surpassed 1,000 career points in the win, making him the 43rd player in program history to reach the milestone. Sindarius Thornwell hit 1,000 points earlier this season against Vanderbilt.
• The team’s previous season high for 3 pointers was nine. The last time Carolina made 10 or more 3s in a game was last season against Auburn (March 12).
• The last road win against a top 10 team came at No. 6/7 Florida on Feb. 8 of 2006.
• Tonight was Carrera’s fourth 20-point game of the season and Thornwell’s third. All four of Carrera’s 20-point games have come in the last five outings.

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