The Gamecocks (14-19), whose only hope of making the NCAAs is to win it all in Atlanta, advanced to the quarterfinals Friday against Tennessee. Arkansas (21-11) will likely have to settle for an NIT berth.
After South Carolina went ahead 70-69 on Brenton Williams’ free throw with 53 seconds remaining, Arkansas squandered two chances to reclaim the lead. Rashad Madden missed a floating jumper in the lane with 33 seconds left, and Bobby Portis one-hander in the lane rolled off the iron with 3 seconds to play.
The Gamecocks missed three of their last four free throws, giving Arkansas one more opportunity. Madden’s desperation heave from just inside the half-court line bounced off the back of the rim.
The Razorbacks didn’t hide their anguish when the horn sounded.
Madden hustled off the court, Portis grimaced at all the opportunities lost, and Anthlon Bell walked slowly along the sideline with both hands locked on top of his head.
Coty Clarke led Arkansas with 13 points, Portis and Madden had 11 each, and Michael Qualls chipped in with 10. It wasn’t enough, the Razorbacks picking the worst possible time to lose back-to-back games for the first time in nearly six weeks.
Laimonas Chatkevicius had 16 points and seven rebounds for South Carolina. Duane Noce added 11 points, Williams had 10 and Mindaugas Kacinas was a force in the lane with 10 rebounds. Michael Carrera also had seven rebounds; no Arkansas player had more than five.
The game was close throughout, the margin never more than six points and within four points throughout the second half.
The Razorbacks appeared to be closing in on an NCAA bid when they won six in a row beginning in mid-February. But Arkansas turned in perhaps its worst performance in the regular-season finale, a 25-point blowout by Alabama, and a one-and-done at the Georgia Dome likely finished off their hopes.
South Carolina was coming off a dominating win against Auburn in the opening round of the tournament; the Tigers fired coach Tony Barbee after the game before the team even left Atlanta.
The undermanned Gamecocks showed some spunk down the stretch, also knocking off Kentucky in a major upset and playing through a one-game suspension for coach Frank Martin after he berated one of his players with an obscenity filled tirade.
Martin barely said a word Thursday, watching his team dominate on the boards (40-24) and mostly do a solid job of dealing with Arkansas’ pressing, trapping defense. The Gamecocks did have 15 turnovers, but they weren’t shy about taking it to the hoop, drawing 28 fouls and hitting 30 of 41 at the line.
That was essentially the difference. Arkansas made 20 of 26 free throws.
Coleman leads LSU
ATLANTA (AP) — Shavon Coleman scored 15 points on five 3-pointers and Louisiana State preserved its slim NCAA hopes by beating Alabama 68-56 on Thursday in the second round of the SEC tournament.
Tim Quarterman had 12 points and Johnny O’Bryant added 11 for the Tigers, who pulled ahead with a 13-0 run in the first half. The Tigers shot 50 percent from the floor and beyond the arc (11 of 22).
LSU will play Kentucky in the SEC quarterfinals on Friday.
LSU (19-12) likely needs to win the SEC tournament to make the NCAA field. The Tigers have an unimpressive RPI of 74, one spot behind Georgia.
Trevor Releford and Shannon Hale both had 11 points to lead Alabama (13-19). Levi Randolph had 10.
Jordan Mickey had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds for LSU.
Missouri holds off
Texas A&M in 2OT
ATLANTA (AP) — Jabari Brown scored 26 points, Earnest Ross added 24 and Missouri barely kept alive its hopes of an NCAA bid, beating Texas A&M 91-83 in double overtime in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday.
The Tigers (22-10) squandered a nine-point lead in the second half, and Texas A&M (17-15) forced another extra period when little-used senior Blake McDonald made a steal under the basket and flipped to Alex Caruso for the tying layup with 8 seconds remaining.
Missouri twice failed to get off a shot with chances to win the game in the closing seconds. It didn’t matter. The Tigers finally wore down the Aggies, who had lost at Missouri 57-56 just eight days earlier.
Caruso led Texas A&M with 28 points, hitting 5 of 9 from 3-point range.