COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dorian Finney-Smith scored 20 points and Michael Frazier II had 15 off the bench as Florida rallied past South Carolina in the second half to open Southeastern Conference play with a 72-68 victory Wednesday night.
The Gators (8-6, 1-0) snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Gamecocks (9-4, 0-1) for a seventh straight time. And they did it with starting center Jon Horford back in Gainesville, Florida after he was suspended for conduct detrimental the team by coach Billy Donovan.
The hole in the middle looked like it might hurt the Gators against South Carolina. Instead, Frazier hit a game-tying 3-pointer to start a 19-8 run midway through the second period. Finney-Smith had a 3, followed with two foul shots then completed a three-point play on Florida's next possession to lead 54-46.
Tyrone Johnson had 20 points to lead South Carolina, which had won seven straight games coming in.
The Gamecocks closed to 70-68 on Johnson's three-point play with 6.8 seconds left. But Eli Carter followed with two foul shots as the Gators hung on.
For Frazier, it continued the junior's hot shooting at Colonial Life Arena. He was 12 of 21 overall, including 11 of 18 from three-point range in Florida's win here in 2013-14. This time, Frazier was 3-of-5 from long distance despite not starting for the first time this season.
Florida entered SEC play a struggling team, having lost by a combined six points to state rival Florida State and Connecticut in its past two games. The Gators were even more shorthanded with coach Billy Donovan's suspensions of Horford, the brother of former Gators great Al Horford, and walk-on freshman guard Zach Hodskins. Neither player traveled with the team to Columbia. Donovan said he would re-evaluate their status when the team returned to Gainesville.
It didn't seem to matter as the Gators, helped by Frazier's two 3s, built a 17-6 lead.
But the Gamecocks turned up their defense with an 11-0 run to get back in it. Johnson had a three-point play and Marcus Stroman a basket to end the run.
South Carolina grabbed its first lead of the game with 40 seconds left on Duane Notice's 3-pointer to head to halftime up 34-31.
Florida: Michael Frazier II had a career game last time he played at South Carolina, going for a Gator record 11 3-pointers and 37 points in his team's 72-46 victory. Frazier has 33 3-pointers this season to lead Florida.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have stepped up their defense this season. Last time out, they held then No. 9 Iowa State to 35.1 percent shooting, 15 points below its season average in a 64-60 South Carolina victory.
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
for more features.