Trailing 28-26 at halftime, South Carolina (11-19, 4-13 SEC) was unable to keep pace with Florida (28-2, 16-0 SEC) in the second 20 minutes as the hot-shooting from Michael Frazier II led the Gators to a 72-46 win tonight at Colonial Life Arena. Frazier ended the game with a Florida record 11 3-pointers as he scored 37 points, going 11-18 from beyond the arc, the most in a league contest.
The Gamecocks were led by sophomore forward Mindaugas Kacinas with 12 points and eight rebounds, while freshman guard Duane Notice added 11 points, four rebounds and three assists. In his last game at Colonial Life Arena, Brenton Williams was held to seven points against a tenacious Gator defense.
Florida opened the game on 7-0 run as Frazier hit a pair of 3s as the Gators held the
Gamecocks to only two shots in the first four and half minutes with a suffocating full court press. Carolina quickly fought back after a goaltending call and a 3 from the left corner by Notice after a cross-court pass from freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell.
Just as Florida opened the lead back up to four, Thornwell sank an open 3 to bring the Gamecocks within one at 9-8 with 12:16 on the clock. Less than a minute later, Carolina grabbed its first lead of the game. Kacinas slipped under the basket and Thornwell dumped a pass over the top to him for an easy layup. The sophomore forward extended the lead as Notice found him in transition for another layup.
Several lead changes and ties ensued from that point, but every time the Gamecocks went ahead and tied it or took a lead, Frazier answered with 3s, recording five in the first half. Frazier's play was the difference as Florida led 28-26 at the break, which offset an aggressive Gamecock team that held a 26-12 advantage on the boards.
Thornwell tied up the game out the half with jumper in the lane, but that was the last point they would score for the next four minutes. The defensive pressure from the Gators ratcheted up as they in turn countered with an 11-0 run.
Williams ended that scoreless drought with his first points of the night on with a 3 between two Gators defenders at the top of the key. The senior was fouled on the shot and converted the free throw to cut he deficit to 39-32 with 14:35 remaining. Less than two minutes later, Williams connected from deep on the left side to bring the Gamecocks within four and force Florida to call a timeout.
Frazier once again countered though for the Gators and hit his sixth 3 of the game to extend Florida's lead back to seven. After hitting the first of two from the line, Dorian Finney-Smith's second attempt was off the mark, but a rebound from Casey Prather turned the tide as Scottie Wilbekin found Patric Young in the post and the center muscled-up a lay-in and converted the free throw after the foul.
Frazier then turned over Thornwell and hit his seventh 3 of the game. After another bucket from Young, Frazier connected from 3 again. He then buried his ninth triple a minute later. Notice stopped the 18-0 run with as he hit two from the foul line as the Gamecocks went more than six minutes without a point.
Frazier finished out the night with two more 3s as the Gators went on to win 72-46 as Gamecocks struggled offensively in the second half, hitting only 22.7 percent (5-22) from the field against the SEC's top defense.
Carolina will hit the road on Saturday for its final game of the regular season to face Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET and will air on SECTV.