South Carolina entered Saturday’s contest coming off its worst loss of the season, at Missouri, and looking to avoid a three-game skid. Not only did the Gamecocks end that streak, but also a seven-game losing streak to Florida in a 73-69 overtime win.
It’s the first home win for South Carolina against Florida since 2010, gives the team a win against a potential tournament team (though Florida’s chances to land in the field of 68 aren’t any better after a loss) and keeps Frank Martin’s team right in the thick of the SEC race, just two games off the lead and in the mix for a favorable seed at the SEC tournament.
Michael Carrera’s 20 points and 15 rebounds carry the headline, but the entire team deserves credit for what Martin, after the win, called “a relentless desire to not give in.”
Since South Carolina’s been stronger on the defensive end and Florida seems to miss the basket a lot more when the Gators are away from Gainesville, the game seemed destined to be a rock-fight but opened with a pair of fascinating runs. After the Gamecocks opened up a large first half lead, Florida went on a season-best 20-0 run to carry a 33-30 lead into the locker room.
Florida couldn’t get consistent play at the guard position in the second half and it resulted in some missed opportunities in a game that, when Mike White looks back on it, will be a missed opportunity. Jerry Palm had the Gators on the bubble as a 10-seed in his most recent Bracketology, but even more urgent is the team’s place in the SEC standings. Nothing gets easier for Florida from here with Vanderbilt, LSU and Kentucky next on the schedule.
The game’s broadcast had a great opportunity to highlight the mothers of South Carolina’s Laminas Chatkevicius and Mindaugas Kacinas. Travel from Lithuania involved 3 flights and 30 hours but according to the SEC Network it’s the first time they’ve gotten to see their sons play in person.
Special moment in South Carolina.
Seeing your son play in person for the first time: https://t.co/XI6m5bvUfr pic.twitter.com/4xph17C4nd
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 20, 2016