Lawson Scores 20 Points to Lead USC Past Clemson, 67-54

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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — AJ Lawson scored 20 points off four 3-pointers and led South Carolina to its first victory over rival Clemson in four years with a 67-54 win on Sunday.

Lawson had just 10 points a week ago in the Gamecocks’ home loss to Houston and coach Frank Martin criticized the sophomore’s defense. In South Carolina’s first game since, Lawson was active and dynamic all over the court in helping win at the Tigers’ Littlejohn Coliseum for the first time since 2011.

Lawson had six rebounds to go along with three steals and three assists for South Carolina (7-4). And he helped the Gamecocks take control with a 14-2 run early in the second half.

Keyshawn Bryant tied things at 29-all with a foul shot, then put South Carolina ahead to stay with two more free throws. Lawson followed with a basket and by the time Alanzo Frink made two more from the line with 11 minutes left, the Gamecocks were ahead 42-31.

Clemson cut the margin to six points on freshman Chase Hunter’s 3-pointer, but Jair Bolden and Lawson hit back-to-back triples to restore South Carolina’s double-digit lead.

Aamir Simms had team highs with 21 points and eight rebounds before fouling out in the final two minutes for the Tigers (5-5), who have lost four straight and fell to 1-5 this season against Power Five conference opponents.

Lawson, a 6-foot-6 sophomore who’s a potential first-round NBA draft pick next season, got going in a hurry and helped the Gamecocks build a six-point lead midway through the opening half. South Carolina was still up 24-19 on Lawson’s 3-pointer with less than five minutes left in the period. That’s when Clemson took off on a 7-0 run to retake the lead, a surge that was started by Simms’ three-point play.

Trae Hannibal had a hammer dunk and Alanzo Frink a driving layup to put the Gamecocks ahead 28-26 after a sloppy first half.

The teams’ combined for 29 turnovers the first 20 minutes.

Clemson shot less than 30 percent for the game (14-of-50) and had a season-high 22 turnovers.

KEY STATS
> South Carolina’s defense had it dialed in from the get go, forcing 22 turnovers and limiting Clemson to 28 percent shooting (14-of-50).
> The Gamecocks were plus-nine (41-32) on the glass and dominated inside with a 24-10 edge in paint points.
> Carolina held the Tigers without a field goal the final 6:38 of the game.

NOTABLES
> Sophomore standout AJ Lawson had his fifth 20-point outing this season (11th career).
> Senior Maik Kotsar continued his solid play with his seventh double-figure outing in the last eight games, as he finished with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
> Redshirt junior guard Jair Bolden was huge down the stretch for Carolina, scoring all 10 of his points in the second half. He hit two clutch 3s to push the team’s lead back to double digits.
> The Gamecocks improve to 7-1 in the 2019-20 season when leading at the half and 6-0 when limiting opponents below 40 percent from the field. Today marked the third time Carolina has held an opponent below 30 percent this season.
> The win snapped a three-game Clemson win streak in the series.

UP NEXT
Carolina will face another ACC opponent on the road next Sunday when the Gamecocks travel to face defending national champion No. 9/8 Virginia in Charlottesville. The contest will be broadcast on ABC and will tip at 3 p.m. ET from John Paul Jones Arena.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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