COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Meechie Johnson hit six 3-pointers and finished with 25 points — both career bests — and freshman Gregory Jackson II added 12 points and a season-high 16 rebounds to help South Carolina beat Western Kentucky 65-58 Thursday night.
Hayden Brown scored 11 points but shot just 3 of 11 from the field and 0 for 6 from 3-point range for South Carolina (6-6). The Gamecocks shot 34% (22 of 64) from the field and made just 12 of 25 (48%) from the free-throw line but hit nine 3-pointers and outrebounded Western Kentucky 51-31.
Emmanuel Akot hit a 3-pointer that capped an 9-0 run and gave Western Kentucky a 49-44 lead midway through the second half but the Hilltoppers went without a made field goal for the next 7-plus minutes. Jacobi Wright answered with a 3 and Johnson hit another in a 15-2 spurt that culminated when Johnson converted a traditional three-point play that gave South Carolina a 10-point lead with 2:15 remaining.
Dayvion McKnight scored 28 points with eight rebounds and three steals for Western Kentucky (8-3). The 6-foot-1 junior was 10-of-16 shooting — 0 for 5 from 3-point range — and is averaging 28.3 points on 61.8% shooting over the last three games.
The Hilltoppers shot 36% (20 of 55), made just 3 of 22 (14%) behind the arc and hit 15 of 25 from the foul line.
Jamarion Sharp scored six points before Luke Frampton hit a 3-pointer to cap Western Kentucky’s 11-2 opening run as the Gamecocks made just one of their first 10 field-goal attempts. Johnson hit two 3-pointers and Chico Carter Jr. added another 3 as South Carolina responded with a 12-2 spurt to take a 14-13 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half.
The Hilltoppers, who had their five-game win streak snapped with a 93-84 loss at Louisville on Dec. 14, have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.
- The Gamecocks limited WKU to 3-of-22 (13.6 percent) from behind the arc. The Hilltoppers came into the game fourth in the country in 3-point shooting at 42.3 percent.
- Meechie Johnson had career highs in points (25) and 3-point field goals made (6).
- Gregory “GG” Jackson II had a career-high 16 rebounds. The last Gamecock to record 15-plus rebounds was Chris Silva with 17 at Texas A&M on March 5, 2019.
- Jackson II continued his double figure scoring streak in every game this season, adding 12 points and a pair of blocks. He’s the only freshman in the country this season to score in double figures in every game.
- Hayden Brown also got into double figures for the fifth-straight game (8th time this season) with 11 points.
- The Gamecocks out-rebounded Western Kentucky 51-31, including 17-5 on the offensive glass. It’s the second time Carolina has had 50 or more rebounds this season (had 50 vs. Clemson on Nov. 8).
- South Carolina allowed just 36.4 percent shooting (20-for-55) on the night.
- The Gamecocks had only 10 turnovers and improved to 3-0 this season when have 10 or fewer giveaways.
- Carolina remains undefeated at home this season at 5-0 and extends the all-time series lead against Western Kentucky to 8-1.
- The Gamecocks (6-6) wrap up nonconference play at home against Eastern Michigan (3-9) on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m.