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Lawson's 3s send South Carolina past Texas A&M 84-77

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Frank Martin has a simple explanation for his team's sudden surge from the outside - the play of forward Chris Silva around the basket.

Martin said Silva has been a take-charge player down low, causing opponents to send several players inside to slow him down and opening up the outside for the Gamecocks to make some shots.

That's been the case, particularly lately. A.J. Lawson had 23 points, including six of South Carolina's program record-tying 16 3-pointers, in an 84-77 win over Texas A&M on Saturday.

''We're learning how to play around him,'' Martin said of his outside shooters.

The results speak for themselves. The Gamecocks (13-12, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) have made 40 of 69 3-pointers in the last three games, two of them come-from-behind victories over Arkansas last Saturday and the Aggies.

''We've been working on it,'' Lawson said.

Silva, who had 22 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, echoes his teammate's sentiments, saying the outside boost makes South Carolina ''very dangerous and makes me feel like I'm not alone.''

The Gamecocks trailed by double digits in the first half and were down 45-35 after Savion Flagg opened the second half for Texas A&M with a 3-pointer. Tre Campbell quickly answered for the Gamecocks to start a 29-15 run over the next 13 minutes and take control.

It kept South Carolina's surprising SEC run going as the team that lost to mid-majors Stony Brook and Wofford in November and was just 5-7 entering league play is challenging for one of the conference's top four spots - and the double-bye in the SEC Tournament that brings.

Lawson hit 6 of 7 from behind the arc overall as the Gamecocks shot 51.6 percent (16 of 31) from distance.

''When the other team makes 16 threes, it's hard to win on their floor,'' Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.

Texas A&M (10-13, 3-9) saw its two-game win streak end.

Flagg led the Aggies with 24 points and Wendell Mitchell had 20.

South Carolina tied the school mark for most 3-pointers in a game - set against Campbell in November 2007. Hassani Gravett sank four 3s and scored 18.

The Aggies came in winning consecutive SEC games for the first time this season with victories over Missouri and Georgia. And they started this one like they didn't want the run of success to end.

Mitchell had a 3-pointer and a three-point play in the first two minutes to lead a 24-12 start. Mitchell's third 3 of the half, with 5:27 to play, gave Texas A&M its biggest lead at 34-21.

That's when the Gamecocks, behind the 6-foot-9 Silva, finally got things going. Silva skied for an alley-oop off a feed from Gravett, then followed with a 3-pointer to start the charge. South Carolina closed a 14-4 surge on Silva's bucket that cut things to 38-35 in the half's final minute.

But Josh Nebo put back a missed shot and TJ Starks went for a breakaway layup in the final 25 seconds to put the Aggies up 42-35 at the break.

BIG PICTURE

Texas A&M: The Aggies have struggled much of SEC play and showed some life early on at South Carolina. But Texas A&M could not handle the Gamecocks hot outside shooting or contain Silva on the inside. TJ Starks, a normally reliable shooter off the bench, had trouble finding his shooting touch, making just six of 14 attempts and missing all three of his 3-point tries.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have gotten into a bit of a habit in falling behind and charging back. They were down 13 points in the second half against Arkansas last week before coming back to win. They overcame a similar double-digit deficit in the second half here, too.

WORK TO DO

South Carolina coach Frank Martin said his team's success from distance covered up some deficiencies on defense. He says the Gamecocks need to be more aggressive on getting loose balls and coming up with defensive rebounds.

WHERE'S THE FOUL?

Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy thought his team did a good job of trying to get fouled, even it did not lead to foul shots. The Aggies finished with just 10 foul shots, 12 fewer than the Gamecocks. TJ Starks had several misses on drives that appeared to cause contact but were not called. ''I don't even think we got to the bonus'' in the second half, Kennedy said.

UP NEXT

Texas A&M returns home to play Alabama on Tuesday night.

South Carolina ends a two-game home stand with Mississippi on Tuesday night.

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Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
  Defensive rebound by Tre Campbell 8.0
  T.J. Starks missed 3-pt. jump shot 10.0
+ 1 Chris Silva made 2nd of 2 free throws 15.0
+ 1 Chris Silva made 1st of 2 free throws 15.0
  Personal foul on Brandon Mahan 15.0
  Defensive rebound by Chris Silva 17.0
  Savion Flagg missed free throw 17.0
  Shooting foul on Maik Kotsar 17.0
+ 3 Savion Flagg made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by T.J. Starks 17.0
+ 1 A.J. Lawson made 2nd of 2 free throws 22.0
+ 1 A.J. Lawson made 1st of 2 free throws 22.0
Team Stats
Points 77 84
Field Goals 31-62 (50.0%) 27-64 (42.2%)
3-Pointers 9-22 (40.9%) 16-31 (51.6%)
Free Throws 6-10 (60.0%) 14-22 (63.6%)
Total Rebounds 32 41
Offensive 6 13
Defensive 23 24
Team 3 4
Assists 12 19
Steals 11 9
Blocks 7 6
Turnovers 17 14
Fouls 22 14
Technicals 0 0
24 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST
23 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST
12T
away team logo Texas A&M 10-14 423577
home team logo South Carolina 13-12 354984
Team Stats
away team logo Texas A&M 10-14 70.4 PPG 40.1 RPG 11.8 APG
home team logo South Carolina 13-12 72.7 PPG 40.2 RPG 12.9 APG
Key Players
1
S. Flagg G 13.9 PPG 7.7 RPG 2.3 APG 46.7 FG%
00
A. Lawson G 13.4 PPG 4.3 RPG 2.9 APG 41.1 FG%
Top Scorers
S. Flagg G 24 PTS 7 REB 2 AST
A. Lawson G 23 PTS 7 REB 5 AST
50.0 FG% 42.2
40.9 3PT FG% 51.6
60.0 FT% 63.6
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
S. Flagg 24 7 2 9/15 6/10 0/2 3 36 1 0 1 1 6
W. Mitchell 20 6 4 8/13 3/5 1/1 2 37 4 0 5 0 6
C. Mekowulu 4 4 0 2/6 0/0 0/0 3 23 1 1 1 2 2
B. Mahan 2 4 1 1/5 0/3 0/0 4 24 0 0 3 1 3
C. Collins 0 1 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 3 11 0 0 0 0 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
S. Flagg 24 7 2 9/15 6/10 0/2 3 36 1 0 1 1 6
W. Mitchell 20 6 4 8/13 3/5 1/1 2 37 4 0 5 0 6
C. Mekowulu 4 4 0 2/6 0/0 0/0 3 23 1 1 1 2 2
B. Mahan 2 4 1 1/5 0/3 0/0 4 24 0 0 3 1 3
C. Collins 0 1 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 3 11 0 0 0 0 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
T. Starks 16 2 3 6/15 0/4 4/5 1 23 3 1 4 0 2
J. Chandler 6 1 1 3/5 0/0 0/0 2 19 0 1 0 0 1
J. Nebo 3 3 0 1/2 0/0 1/2 4 16 0 4 2 2 1
J. Walker III 2 1 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 11 2 0 1 0 1
A. Gilder - - - - - - - - - - - - -
F. Byers - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. French - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Alo - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Vaughn - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. McGhee - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Walker - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 77 29 12 31/62 9/22 6/10 22 200 11 7 17 6 23
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
A. Lawson 23 7 5 7/12 6/7 3/5 2 38 3 0 2 2 5
C. Silva 22 14 2 7/13 1/2 7/7 3 33 2 3 5 5 9
T. Campbell 13 2 6 4/13 3/8 2/2 0 37 2 0 1 0 2
M. Kotsar 0 1 0 0/2 0/0 0/2 2 20 0 0 1 1 0
K. Bryant 0 2 1 0/6 0/2 0/0 2 15 0 0 1 1 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
A. Lawson 23 7 5 7/12 6/7 3/5 2 38 3 0 2 2 5
C. Silva 22 14 2 7/13 1/2 7/7 3 33 2 3 5 5 9
T. Campbell 13 2 6 4/13 3/8 2/2 0 37 2 0 1 0 2
M. Kotsar 0 1 0 0/2 0/0 0/2 2 20 0 0 1 1 0
K. Bryant 0 2 1 0/6 0/2 0/0 2 15 0 0 1 1 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
H. Gravett 18 5 4 6/11 4/7 2/6 3 32 2 1 2 0 5
F. Haase 8 4 1 3/6 2/5 0/0 1 23 0 1 2 3 1
A. Frink 0 2 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 1 2 0 1 0 1 1
E. Hinson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Bolden - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Cudd - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Minaya - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Moss - - - - - - - - - - - - -
N. Nelson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Couisnard - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Q. Borup - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 84 37 19 27/64 16/31 14/22 14 200 9 6 14 13 24