Cocky made a half court shot during halftime, seconds before the Gamecocks ran out of the tunnel for the second half. At that point, the school’s mascot had the same number of 3-pointers USC men’s basketball had: just one.
That changed seconds into the final 20 minutes.
Led by Collin Murray-Boyles’ historic afternoon, South Carolina came out flying after taking a four-point deficit into the locker room. The Gamecocks marched their way to their seventh-straight SEC win, taking down Vanderbilt 75-60 in Colonial Life Arena for the final game of their two-game homestand.
Just a freshman
Collin Murray-Boyles doesn’t play like a freshman. His physicality, aggression and poise in the paint is well beyond that of an 18-year-old. Yet here he is, single-handedly injecting life into a mature South Carolina team.
Murray-Boyles blew past his previous career-high 18 points, finishing the game with 31 points and seven rebounds. It was the most points scored by a single player in an SEC game this season, after Meechie Johnson scored 24 against Mississippi State on Jan. 6.
The 6-foot-7 forward doubled-down on his game-winning block against Ole Miss just days ago, blocking an uncontested shot on a breakaway. Both blocks, as clean as can be, brought Colonial Life Arena to its feet. Even the South Carolina bench was ecstatic to see Murray-Boyles deny the Commodores.
Murray-Boyles led all scorers, with BJ Mack scoring 18 points. The duo alone covered 49 of USC’s 75 points Saturday afternoon.
Murray-Boyles was subbed out with eight minutes left to catch his breath, the arena gave him a standing ovation, chanting “he’s a freshman.” It was rightfully deserved for the budding, hometown star.
Slow paced first half
South Carolina can force a high-scoring offense to slow down effortlessly, it’s done it over and over again against ranked programs this year.
Vanderbilt isn’t a high-scoring offense. In fact, the Commodores are last in the SEC in points per game, South Carolina is 13th. Yet, the Gamecocks couldn’t shoot more than one triple in the first half, were getting outrebounded, 17-13 in the opening minutes.
Those first 20 minutes crawled by. The Commodores secured a four-point halftime lead. Murray-Boyles had 11 points as USC’s brightest spot of the first half.
While it wasn’t USC’s worst half of basketball, it wasn’t the best either. The Gamecocks had too many small things slip away, and the lone triple was a staggering number that frustrated the garnet and black’s offense.
Next four games
Feb. 14 at Auburn, 8:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Feb. 17 vs. LSU, 3:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Feb. 24 at Ole Miss, 3:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Feb. 28 at Texas A&M, 8:30 p.m. (SEC Network)