South Carolina Suffers Second Straight Loss as LSU Picks Up Key SEC Win, 86-80

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Darius Days scored 18 points off a season-high four 3-pointers and LSU ended a two-game losing streak with an 86-80 victory Saturday night.

Javonte Smart also had 18 points for the Tigers (19-8, 10-4 Southeastern Conference), which reached double-figure league victories for the second straight season.

South Carolina (16-11, 8-6) cut a 19-point second-half lead to 84-80 with 17.9 seconds left, but Smart followed with two foul shots to close out the win.

Early on, LSU used accurate shooting and a defensive fierceness to keep South Carolina on its heels most of the game.

The Gamecocks drew within 39-37 with a minute left before halftime when Days hit his fourth 3-pointer, then stole the ball from Wildens Leveque in the open court for an uncontested layup that sent LSU into the locker room up 44-37.

Trendon Watford, Aundre Hyatt and Charles Manning Jr. all had 3-pointers early in the second half and Days put back Manning’s long miss to put the Tigers ahead 57-46.

Keyshawn Bryant and Jermaine Couisnard had 15 points each to lead South Carolina. Bryant also had 10 boards for his first career double-double.

Days left the game and went to the locker room with about 13 minutes to go after getting hit near his eye during once exchange under South Carolina’s basket. He finished two points shy of his career best, set twice this year.

Days would eventually return to the bench to cheer on his teammates before getting back into the action with about three minutes left.

He hit six of his eight field goals and had nine rebounds.

Watford had 15 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season.

LSU’s quickness and skill kept it ahead early whenever South Carolina tightened things up.

The Tigers had a 16-5 burst to lead 24-17 with 11:15 left in the opening half. When the Gamecocks scored seven straight to tie it up, LSU answered with seven in a row to pull back in front.

Again, South Carolina rallied to cut the lead to 31-29 and LSU broke off an 8-0 run the next two minutes for a 10-point lead.

> LSU made its mark at the charity stripe, going 25-for-31 (80.6 percent) with some crucial makes late. The Tigers did not make a field goal the final 5:11 of regulation.

> Sophomore wing Keyshawn Bryant had his best game in league play, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.
> Senior forward Maik Kotsar tallied his eighth straight game in double figures with 10 points. He added a pair of steals for his 13th multi-steal game of the season.
> Redshirt junior guard Jair Bolden led the bench with 15 points. He went 3-for-6 from downtown.
> Tonight marked just the third loss in the Frank Martin era at South Carolina when the Gamecocks score 80 or more points (58-3 overall and 5-1 this season).

Carolina concludes its two-game home stand next Wednesday when it hosts Georgia (14-13, 4-10 SEC) for a 6:30 p.m. ET matchup at Colonial Life Arena. Roy Philpott (play-by-play) and Mark Wise (analyst) will have the call for the SEC Network broadcast.

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