South Carolina battled No. 23/25 Baylor to the wire before coming up just short in a 66-64 loss at the Ferrell Center. Freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell saw a pair of shots fall just short in the final seconds, and forward Michael Carrera was fouled attempting a put-back at the final horn, but officials determined the infraction occurred after time had expired.
Thornwell was the catalyst for the Gamecocks throughout the afternoon, leading all scorers with a season-high 20 points and chipping in four rebounds as Baylor was unable to find an answer for him.
Both teams opened up the game shooting high percentages with South Carolina starting the game hitting eight of its first nine from the field, while Baylor connected on seven of its first eight field goals.
The teams went back and forth throughout the first 20 minutes, both shooting over 48 percent from the field. South Carolina held a slim lead for much of the half, posting its largest lead of four, four times during the period and only trailing twice and taking a 39-38 edge into the locker room at halftime.
With 14:08 leftin the game, Baylor grabbed its first lead since the 12:42 mark in the first half when a missed free throw was kicked out to Brady Heslip for a 3-pointer to give the Bears a one-point advantage. After the Gamecocks quickly went back on top, Heslip responded with another triple. South Carolina's Demitrius Henry tied the game at 52-52 with 12:21 remaining.
After Henry gave the Gamecocks a two-point advantage, Baylor got one back on a free throw before forward Cory Jefferson hit a jumper to give the Bears the lead just before the 10-minute mark. Ten seconds later a missed free throw by Jefferson was gathered by Baylor where it was kicked out to Heslip for his third 3-pointer in less than five minutes. The bucket gave the home team its largest lead of the game at 58-54.
Baylor pushed the lead to 60-55, but South Carolina remained persistent and fought back to tie the game at 64-64 on a jumper from Thornwell with 4:20 on the clock.
Trailing 65-64, the Gamecocks forced a stop with just under a minute remaining, but Tyrone Johnson's layup on the other end wouldn't go down. Baylor guard Kenny Chery hit one of two free throws to give a the Bears a two-point lead before the Gamecocks called a timeout with 16 seconds remaining.
On the other end, Thornwell got the ball in the corner and drove to the basket, but wasn't able to get his attempt to fall. He quickly stole the ball from Royce O'Neal before getting a second attempt off, which fell short as well. Carrera corralled the rebound, his team-high seventh of the game, and went back up to beat the buzzer, but neither the shot nor the foul called on Baylor occurred before the final horn.
For the game, Gamecock senior guard Brenton Williams had 12 points, while Johnson had eight points and eight assists to go along with four rebounds. Heslip led Baylor with 18 points, going 5-of-10 from behind the 3-point line.
South Carolina will travel to in-state rival Clemson on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET, and the game will air on ESPN3.