South Carolina continues hot SEC start against winless Missouri

B.J. Mack scored 21 points and South Carolina continued its hot spurt with a 72-64 victory over Missouri on Saturday afternoon in Southeastern Conference play at Columbia, S.C.

Ta’Lon Cooper added 12 points and Jacobi Wright scored 11 for the Gamecocks (17-3, 5-2 SEC), who won for the 10th time in the past 12 games. Morris Ugusuk added 10 points for South Carolina.

Sean East II recorded 21 points and seven assists for the Tigers (8-12, 0-7), who lost their seventh consecutive contest. Tamar Bates added 16 points and seven rebounds for Missouri.

South Carolina shot 44.2 percent from the field, including 10 of 25 from 3-point range.

The Tigers made 47.1 percent of their attempts and were 14 of 17 from the charity stripe.

Missouri trailed for nearly 35 minutes but was within 67-62 after a layup by Bates with 2:28 left.

Cooper later was handling the ball on the perimeter and suddenly dashed to drive down the lane for a layup and give South Carolina a seven-point lead with 1:14 left and the Gamecocks closed it out.

Missouri trailed by 10 at halftime before scoring the first 11 points of the second half. Bates capped the burst with a layup to give the Tigers a 40-39 edge.

South Carolina scored 14 of the next 20 points. Wright and Cooper capped the surge with 3-pointers to give the Gamecocks a 53-46 lead with 12:02 remaining in the game.

Collin Murray-Bowles split two free throws to make it 62-52 with 4:58 left before the Tigers cut their deficit in half.

Mack scored 15 first-half points to help South Carolina hold a 39-29 lead at the break.

The Gamecocks ripped off 10 straight points to take a 24-10 advantage on a jumper by Murray-Bowles with 8:36 left in the half.

Later in the half, the Tigers went on a 12-4 burst and Nick Honor knocked down a trey to cut the South Carolina lead to 30-26 with 2:51 remaining.

The Gamecocks then finished the half with a 9-3 run with Cooper’s basket with under 4 seconds left giving South Carolina the 10-point halftime cushion.