South Carolina (8-12, 1-6 SEC) led by as many as 32 points and four Gamecocks scored in double-figures, as the Gamecocks posted their first SEC win of the season with a strong offensive effort in an 80-52 victory over visiting Texas A&M (12-8, 3-4 SEC) on Wednesday evening at Colonial Life Arena.
Freshman guard Duane Notice posted a season high 19 points and fellow rookie guard Sindarius Thornwell also posted 19. Senior guard Brenton Williams added 18 and sophomore forward Laimonas Chatkevicius matched his career high with 12 points in the win. The Gamecocks hit 52.2 percent (24-46) in the contest.
Like they did two weeks ago in College Station, the Gamecocks raced out to quick lead, as Demetrius Henry opened the game with a 12-footer. Steals by Williams on back-to-back possessions led to a 3-pointer from Notice and Michael Carrera hitting 1-of-2 from the line after being fouled on a fast break. Carrera followed that up with two of his nine points by tipping in a missed attempt from Notice.
With the Aggies trying to end the run, Williams squared up a 3 to give Carolina 15-5 lead with 13:57 on the clock. Texas A&M was able to climb back and cut the deficit down to six after a pair of free throws with Shawn Smith, but the Gamecocks went a 15-0 spurt forcing the Aggies to call their first timeout. The run was fueled by Chetkevicius, who had six of the 11 points.
A pair of layups from Smith late in the half cut the Gamecocks' lead to 17, but Williams capped off the half with a deep 3 to give Carolina a 41-21 lead heading into the break.
The Aggies opened up the second half with a 7-0 run forcing the Gamecocks to call a timeout. During the stretch, Thornwell was whistled for his second and third fouls within the opening minute. The team's leading scorer was picked up though by freshman teammate as Notice ended the drought with a layup and before hitting the ensuing free throw after being fouled.
Despite Texas A&M cutting into the lead, Notice led the charge throughout the early part of half to help maintain the Gamecocks' lead. The freshman accounted for 10 of the team's 12 points during the first eight minutes of the half as he went on to pass his previous career high.
After a jumper from Thornwell pushed the lead back up to 19 at 56-37 with 10:58 remaining, Williams hit his fourth 3 of the game less than a minute later. It marked the third-straight game that senior has recorded at least four made 3-pointers.
Carolina continued to build on its lead throughout the final nine minutes of the game, primarily from the foul line as they shot 11-of-12 from the charity stripe from that point on to finish the game with an 80-52 win.
The Gamecocks' defense stifled the Aggies' offense all night, allowing them to only shoot 35.6 percent (16-45) from the field. For the first time this season, the Garnet and Black did not allow any of the opposing team's players to score in double figures as Smith and Jamal Jones each led their team with nine.
Carolina also made the most of their opportunities from the foul line, hitting 26-32 (81.3 percent), as Thornwell (8-8), Notice (6-6) and Chatkevicius (2-2) were all perfect on the night. Texas A&M was 16-29 (55.2 percent) from the line.
To go with their game high 19 points, Notice and Thornwell each grabbed four rebounds and dished three assists. Carrera led the Gamecocks with seven rebounds.
South Carolina continues SEC play when it travels to Ole Miss on Saturday for a contest set to tip at 1:47 p.m. ET on SEC TV.