Saturday, March 6, 2010

Downey Ignites Upset In Nashville

Final Stats       SEC Tourney Bracket

South Carolina (15-15, 6-10)  needed Devan Downey to have a big day to have any chance to win at Vanderbilt (23-7, 12-4).  And big game he had, scoring 26 points, 22 in the second half to ignite a come from behind victory over the #13 Vanderbilt Commodores.  Vandy's loss to Kentucky was their lone blemish at home until the Gamecocks rallied behind Downey to record a 77-73 victory in Nashville.  

This victory comes at the right time, as the Cocks will return to Nashville to open SEC tournament play Thursday.  Downey was not alone in the scoring as Sam Muldrow scored 20 points to go with 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.  Downey leading the league in scoring and steals, added a couple of steals in this contest, along with one big steal and score during his second half highlight run.  Downey struggled in the first half shooting 2-9 for 4 points.  With USC trailing 35-27 at the half, and trailing by 9 points with just over 9 minutes to play in the ball game, Downey went on a scoring flurry hitting back to back threes and the run, comeback and 50-point second half was ignited.  South Carolina built a 7 point lead in about 4 minutes with a little over 5 minutes to go before Vandy tied the game at 69-69 with just under two minutes to play.  But the Gamecocks were more like "Fighting Gamecocks", as they could see the kill in sight and denied the host team and crowd the chance to regain control of the game.  Downey would come down and immediately hit a three and give the visitors the lead for good.

The game would wind down with Head Coach John Stallings' team cutting the lead to 2 points, but South Carolina would make free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.  South Carolina locks up the #5 seed and will likely play Auburn or Alabama in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.

Other contributing factors in the game would be Muldrow, scoring 13 points in the first half, and Lakeem Jackson's first half penetration and scoring in the paint.  Darrin Horn's ball club would play physical throughout the game, which led to USC out rebounding the taller Commodores 29-24 (9-4 offensive).    In the earlier meeting won by Vandy, USC was out rebounded 39-24.  Horn never stopped coaching, and obviously the team kept believing and executing, and when Downey began scoring the Commodores went cold and appeared "shell-shocked" by the Downey scoring outburst.  Vanderbilt Senior Jermaine Beal would see his senior day and 21 point, 8 rebound, 2 assist performance tainted by  Downey and company.  A.J. Ogilvy added 15 points and Jeffrey Taylor 13 for Vandy.

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