South Carolina (13-15, 3-12 SEC) could not overcome a 69.6 percent shooting performance by Missouri (20-8, 9-6 SEC), dropping a home conference contest 90-68 on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena. Sophomore guard Damien Leonard scored a career-high 20 points, hitting a career-best six 3s to lead the Gamecocks.
Junior guards Brian Richardson and Brenton Williams scored 10 points apiece in the game. Freshman forward Michael Carrera and senior forward Lakeem Jackson grabbed a team-high four rebounds. The Gamecocks shot 42.9 percent in the game, hitting 24-of-56 shots.
Senior guard Keion Bell recorded 18 of his game-high 24 points in the first half to lead Missouri. Sophomore guard Jabari Brown added 23 points, with senior forward Alex Oriakhi tallying 18. Both junior guard Phil Pressy and junior forward Tony Criswell registered a game-high five rebounds with Pressy adding nine assists.
Carrera struck first for South Carolina, giving them the early 2-0 lead, but Missouri was able to build a cushion, taking a 13-5 lead after Brown and Bell hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Tigers an eight-point lead four minutes into the matchup.
After checking in at the first media timeout, freshman forward Mindaugas Kacinas immediately drained shot from behind the arc and Richardson added another 3 on the next possession for the Gamecocks, cutting the Missouri lead to 15-11. Williams hit a 3-pointer two plays later and tacked on a basket in the lane to tie the game at 17 at the second media break.
With the game knotted at 17, the Tigers went on a 9-0 run to take a 26-17 upperhand. Williams stopped the run with a score in transition.
On the back of three Leonard 3-point baskets, the Gamecocks pulled to within two at 32-30, and the Gamecocks leveled the game again, this time at 32-32, on a long Ellington jumper with 5:14 remaining in the half.
Leading 38-34 at the final media timeout of the first half, Missouri went on a 7-2 run to match their largest lead of the half at nine. Freshman forward Laimonas Chatkevicius scored a bucket for South Carolina on their final offensive possession of the half, making the score 45-38 when the teams went to the locker room.
Holding a seven-point advantage at halftime, the Tigers started the second half 6-of-6 from the floor, going on a 12-4 run to stretch out a 57-42 lead.
The Gamecocks were able to cut the lead to 11 after five straight points from Lenoard, but could draw no closer. The visitors went on a 16-2 run, pulling ahead at 76-51.
At the third media break of the second half, the Tigers were shooting 92 percent in the second half, going 12-of-13 floor. Missouri was able to maintain their lead to record a 90-68 win.
South Carolina will play their first SEC game against Texas A&M on Saturday. The Gamecocks will face the Aggies in College Station, Texas, with the broadcast set for ESPNU at 7 p.m.