COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's A.J. Lawson and Hassani Gravett each notched a career-high in points as the Gamecocks held on to beat Coastal Carolina 85-79 on Friday night.
Lawson was scoreless in South Carolina's last game, but with preseason All-SEC selection Chris Silva again in early foul trouble Friday, he shouldered the scoring load with 25 points against the Chanticleers. Gravett added 23.
The Gamecocks (4-3) erased an eight-point deficit in the first half to lead by nine at the break, but the Chanticleers, who hit 11 3-pointers, never went away.
Coastal erased a 10-point deficit to lead by one seven minutes into the first half, but Silva, playing with three fouls, woke up. He swished a soft hook shot from the right side, put a miss back with a thunderous dunk and tightened his defense.
The Chanticleers' Zac Cuthbertson and his teammates' long-range shooting kept Coastal close but South Carolina, in the bonus with 12 minutes to play, kept hitting free throws. The Gamecocks were 25-of-33 from the line and stroked 10 3-pointers of their own.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks were humbled on their home court last time out by Wofford, a strong team but not one that should hang with, much less beat, a team that was in the Final Four less than two years ago. Frank Martin is still working with a young team that has already had numerous injuries and keeps preaching a learning process.
Coastal Carolina: Cuthbertson is a potential Sun Belt player of the year candidate, leading the Chanticleers in scoring, rebounding and assists. If the Chants can find just one more consistent player around him they'll be a tough out in league play.
South Carolina begins a four-game stretch that will go a long way toward determining its postseason chances. The Gamecocks are at Wyoming on Wednesday, then travel to No. 7 Michigan Dec. 8 to complete the road trip. After that is the exam break and back-to-back games against No. 4 Virginia and archrival Clemson, which recently fell out of the Top 25.
Coastal Carolina hosts Hampton on Wednesday to start its last four-game stretch of non-conference games. The Chanticleers will have two home and two away games during the stretch, including a Dec. 9 game at Wofford, which whipped the Gamecocks by 20 points.