Gamecocks drop another close one

The Associated PressFebruary 19, 2014 

Michael Qualls scored 20 points as Arkansas held off a second-half rally by South Carolina for a 71-64 win on Wednesday night.

The sophomore, who struggled mightily with his shooting to start conference play, finished 7 of 14 from the field – including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers – for the Razorbacks (17-9, 6-7 SEC).

Brenton Williams led the Gamecocks (10-16, 3-10) with 29 points, finishing 11 of 20 from the field – including 6 of 13 on 3-pointers.

South Carolina, which finished 22 of 59 (37.3 percent) from the field, is 0-10 on the road this season and has lost 17 straight road games.

The Gamecocks haven’t won on the road since an overtime win at LSU on Jan. 16, 2013.

Coty Clarke added 12 points and 12 rebounds for Arkansas, which has won two straight games and four of five overall.

Arkansas led 62-55 with 2:35 remaining, but the Gamecocks closed to within 66-64 with 21.5 seconds left after a layup by Williams.

The Razorbacks went up 67-64 after a free throw by Clarke with 16.6 seconds remaining, and South Carolina followed with a turnover on the other end. That led to four free throws by Arkansas’ Ky Madden and Alandise Harris to close out the win.

The Razorbacks led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but – led by Williams – the Gamecocks used a 15-0 run to close within 40-38 early in the second half. Sindarius Thornwell and Brian Steele capped the run with back-to-back 3-pointers for South Carolina, which finished 8 of 19 on 3-pointers.

The Gamecocks later tied the score at 55-55 after an inside basket by Laimonas Chatkevicius, but Qualls answered with a 3-pointer to put Arkansas up 58-55 – a lead the Razorbacks would not relinquish.

Qualls opened conference play with 11-of-56 (19.6 percent) shooting over his first six games, but he’s now scored in double figures in five of Arkansas’ past six games. The sophomore has hit 11 of 20 3-pointers over his past four games, and he nearly matched his career best of 21 points, which came earlier this season against California at the Maui Invitational.

The Gamecocks had won two straight conference games for the first time since 2011 entering the game, and they overcame early shooting woes to take a 21-20 lead after Williams capped a run of eight straight points with a basket.

Led by Qualls and Clarke, who combined for 18 points in the first half, Arkansas – which has won four of five games – responded with a 20-2 run to go up 40-23 late in the half. Mardracus Wade capped the run with a 3-pointer for the Razorbacks, who were 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) shooting in the first half.

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