Florida routs USC, which has now lost four of its last five games
COLUMBIA -- Darrin Horn said earlier this week that South Carolina's January win in Gainesville would have no bearing on Wednesday's game against Florida.
He was correct.
The 17th-ranked Gators reversed the result, dominating the Gamecocks from start to finish in a 79-60 victory inside oft-quiet Colonial Life Arena. About 8,000 fans started the game in the garnet-colored seats -- and maybe half that remained by the final minutes.
"We were getting really good looks, but they just didn't go down," said Horn, whose team has not won at home since Jan. 19. "It took the wind out of us. We really never recovered from that. Florida did what a good, veteran team does and took advantage of it. ... I thought they played really well."
Florida has now won six of seven, surging to 8-2 in the league and 19-5 overall. The Gators are playing like the team projected to win the conference title.
South Carolina, on the other hand, has lost four of five, including its past three home games. The promising 3-1 SEC start for the Gamecocks (13-9, 4-5) has long since faded.
"There is no magic formula to it," Horn said. "You just have to keep going. ... It's just something you have to go through and push through."
The Gamecocks missed their first eight shots in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the game, watching Florida scoot out to a 9-0 lead from the tip. Ramon Galloway then scored seven consecutive points for USC, but he didn't score again until the game's final minutes and finished with nine.
South Carolina made enough shots to trail the Gators 30-24 at the final media timeout of the first half, but Florida responded with an 8-0 run out of the break and took a 38-27 lead into the half.
"That (run) really hurt us," Horn said. "That's what good veteran teams do."
That trend continued to begin the second half, with the Gators stretching the lead to 19 - 57-38 -- with 11:32 to play when guard Erving Walker nailed a 3-pointer. USC never threatened after that. Walker hit 4 of 5 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 25 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
The Gamecocks had no interior answers for Florida post Vernon Macklin, who finished with 16 points and six rebounds. Forward Chandler Parsons finished two assists shy of a triple-double. Parsons, this week's SEC player of the week, had 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
Parsons has logged six consecutive double-digit-rebound games, including three straight double-doubles. His eight assists were a season high.
It's the second straight game that an opponent shot 55 percent against the Gamecocks -- though this one was on South Carolina's home floor, which is becoming less and less of an advantage.
Bruce Ellington led South Carolina with 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting, but he made just 2 of 10 3-pointers. Brian Richardson and Sam Muldrow each added 10. Muldrow had blocked shots and is now three blocks from setting the school record.
South Carolina hosts Georgia on Saturday at 4 p.m. as the Gamecocks continue a five-game run against Eastern Division opponents. Road games at Tennessee and Kentucky follow.