EditorsNote: Significant changes throughout
South Carolina guard Hassani Gravett scored five points on a late possession, then hit a pair of critical foul shots with 2.5 seconds left, giving the Gamecocks a 74-71 upset of Vanderbilt in Nashville on Wednesday night.
Freshmen A.J. Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant scored 24 and 13 points, respectively, for South Carolina, keeping the Gamecocks (9-7, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) unbeaten in league play.
Forward Aaron Nesmith, the 2018 South Carolina Gatorade High School Player of the Year, had a career-high 23 points to lead Vanderbilt (9-7, 0-4). The Commodores also got 17 from guard Saben Lee and 13 from forward Simisola Shittu.
Vanderbilt held the lead as Lee drove right and hit a short bank with 1:46 left, but the sophomore then made a critical error on the other end.
After blocking Gravett’s layup out of bounds, Lee taunted Gravett and was whistled for a technical. Gravett hit both free throws, then connected on a 3-pointer with 1:12 left to tie the game at 68.
Foul trouble was a theme throughout the game; South Carolina was charged with 29 fouls, and Vanderbilt 26. The Commodores got into the bonus at the 15:26 mark of the second half.
But Vanderbilt’s inability to hit free throws (24 of 37, 64.9 percent) kept South Carolina in the game late.
Meanwhile, Lawson carried South Carolina until midway through the second half, hitting a tough runner in the lane, then getting a steal and a breakaway dunk to get the Gamecocks within 50-45. Forward Felipe Haase tied the game at 57-all with a corner 3-pointer with 6:41 left.
Nesmith had 11 points in the game’s first 8:38, helping the Commodores to a 17-14 lead.
The lead grew to 25-16 after Shittu’s nifty behind-the-back dribble resulted in the freshman’s conversion of a tough bank shot followed by his three-point play on the Commodores’ next trip.
Nesmith’s fourth trey of the half with 8:48 remaining — he was 5 of 5 from the field at that point — gave the Commodores their biggest edge in the first period at 28-16.
The Gamecocks shot just 33.3 percent in the first half and trailed 39-29 at the break. They shot 41.2 percent for the game.
Forward Chris Silva, South Carolina’s leading scorer, fouled out with 3:06 left, picking up just two points and three rebounds in 13 minutes.
—Field Level Media