South Carolina uses strong first half to top Texas A&M, 74-54

South Carolina uses strong first half to top Texas A&M, 74-54
Jermaine Couisnard scored 19 points and AJ Lawson 18 as South Carolina used a big first-half run to put away Texas A&M 74-54 on Saturday. (Source: South Carolina Basketball)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Jermaine Couisnar scored 19 points and AJ Lawson 18 as South Carolina used a big first-half run to put away Texas A&M 74-54 on Saturday.Couisnard and Lawson combined for six of the Gamecocks’ eight 3-pointers to win their fourth straight over the Aggies (11-11, 5-5 Southeastern Conference).

South Carolina (14-9, 6-4) has won six of its past eight league games after starting SEC play at 0-2. And this time, the Gamecocks did it with a first-half charge where they went from trailing by nine points to up 41-23 at the half.

Couisnard and Lawson led the surge with their outside shooting. Lawson hit a 3-pointer after South Carolina had fallen behind 9-0 the first three minutes. Couisnard, a freshman, put the Gamecocks up for good, 19-18, with nine minutes left in the opening half.

He capped the half with a long, buzzer-beating 3-pointer that got the crowd to its feet and put South Carolina ahead by 18 points at the break.

The Gamecocks built the lead to 61-30 early in the second half, although the Aggies never got closer than 22 points the rest of the way.

It was a strong bounce back for the Gamecocks, who had come off a disappointing loss to on the road last time out to Ole Miss, tied for 11th in the league.

Couisnard was again front and center with 12 points in the half including the buzzer-beating 3-pointer that was reminiscent of his game winner in a 71-68 victory over Kentucky last month.

Texas A&M missed 10 of its last 11 shots of the half to fall into the large hole it could not climb out of.

Quenton Jackson had 16 points to lead the Aggies.

KEY STATS

> South Carolina finished the first half on a 23-5 run over the final 8:20 to open an 18-point lead that it would never relinquish.

> The Gamecocks shot it well at the foul line, going 20-of-27 (74.0 percent) in the game.> Carolina’s defense had 13 steals (one shy of matching season-high) helping lead to 21 points off turnovers on the offensive end.

NOTABLES

> Redshirt freshman Jermaine Couisnard continued to thrive in his new role at the point guard position, leading the team with 19 points. He also had four rebounds and three assists.

> Sophomore AJ Lawsonfinished with 18 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes of action. He was 4-of-7 from 3 matching a season-high for makes from distance. In two games vs. the Aggies this season, Lawson is 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) from behind the arc.

> Senior Maik Kotsar

had 10 points (3-for-6 FGs) with a team-high four assists and four steals. The Tallinn, Estonia, native, leads the team with 37 steals on the season.

> Kotsar was 4-for-4 at the free throw line and has made 14 in-a-row at the charity stripe dating back to the second half vs. Missouri (2/1/20).

> South Carolina has now won four-straight in the series against Texas A&M.

> Since dropping the SEC home opener after the New Year against Florida (1/7/20), the Gamecocks are 4-0 at home in league action.

UP NEXT

Carolina travels to face Georgia on Wednesday in its next SEC road matchup. The meeting will be the first between the two schools this season. Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst) will have the call for the SEC Network broadcast in Athens.