Kotsar, South Carolina rally to beat Tennessee 63-61

Kotsar, South Carolina rally to beat Tennessee 63-61
South Carolina's Maik Kotsar swished four free throws in the final 21 seconds to deliver an improbable 63-61 win over Tennessee on Saturday. (Source: South Carolina Basketball)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina’s Maik Kotsar swished four free throws in the final 21 seconds to deliver an improbable 63-61 win over Tennessee on Saturday.Trailing 60-59 with 75 seconds left, the Gamecocks (16-9, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) were kicking themselves for their own mistakes. One of the nation’s worst teams at fouling and shooting free throws was once again living up to its twin reputation, with 24 fouls and 13 misses from the line.

Yet, after Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi turned the ball over, and Jordan Bowden fouled Kotsar to prevent a fast break, the senior forward calmly swished two free throws for a one-point lead.

Tennessee’s John Fulkerson was then called for a charge. Kotsar went back to the foul line and made a pair for a three-point lead. Coincidentally, it was Fulkerson who drew a charge to seal a 56-55 win over South Carolina on Jan. 11.

Charleston native Josiah-Jordan James made his first, then intentionally threw his second shot into the rim. He came up with the rebound but his shot attempt fell short.Fulkerson scored a career-high 25 points while Kotsar led the Gamecocks with 13.

KEY STATS

> South Carolina’s bench was a key factory again tonight, outscoring the Tennessee reserves, 27-11.

NOTABLES

> Senior forward Maik Kotsar, who led the team with 13 points, tallied his career-best, sixth-straight game in double figures. Over the stretch, he’s averaged 14.0 points per game while shooting 30-for-55 (54.5 percent) from the field and 24-of-30 (80.0 percent) at the free throw line.

> Prior to leaving the game due to injury, freshman big man Jalyn McCreary was 4-of-5 from the field with eight points, four rebounds and a block.> With South Carolina’s big men in foul trouble early in the second half, sophomore forward Nathan Nelson played a career-high nine minutes.

> Sophomore wing Keyshawn Bryant had three blocks (career high) and two steals. He also drew a key charge with 9 seconds left to give Carolina possession.

> Today’s victory snapped a five-game losing streak to the Vols.

> The Gamecocks have now won eight of their last 10 games.

UP NEXT

South Carolina has one more weekday road contest in league play, as it heads to Mississippi State (16-9, 7-5 SEC) next Wednesday. Tip time is set for 9 p.m. ET with Roy Philpott (play-by-play) and Mark Wise (analyst) on the call for the SEC Network broadcast.