NASHVILLE, Tenn. — James Siakam energized a Vanderbilt comeback over South Carolina on Saturday.
The senior forward from Cameroon scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, leading the Commodores to a 65-50 win as the Commodores rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit at Memorial Gym.
The Commodores (13-10, 3-7 Southeastern Conference) trailed 41-29 with 13:46 left before rallying.
“James Siakam said, ‘We’re not losing,’ and we didn’t respond,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “He led his team and then we didn’t have anyone stand up and answer the bell for what James Siakam was doing.”
An 18-0 run triggered the comeback for Vanderbilt, which has won two straight since ending a seven-game losing streak in Tuesday’s win over Florida.
“I used to have a team full of guys like (Siakam) at Kansas State,” Martin said. “I love his enthusiasm, his strength, his toughness, his passion. His demeanor is contagious.”
Siakam made a crucial three-point play with a dunk and a foul shot midway through the 18-0 run.
“When you see that those young guys, they believe in you and they want you to help them grow — for me, it’s huge,” Siakam said. “I always want to do something for my teammates.”
Riley LaChance started off slowly, but ended up leading the Commodores with 19 points.
The freshman guard made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Vanderbilt a 45-43 lead with 8:25 left.
“We regrouped and got back together,” LaChance said. “We got a couple of stops in a row on the defensive end, which was huge for us.”
South Carolina (11-11, 2-8) has lost six of its last seven games.
Wade Baldwin IV added 12 points for the Commodores.
“James’ energy has returned and it’s made a huge difference in our team,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “(The 18-0 run) was kind of a blur to me. They missed some open looks, so some of it we got a little lucky.”
Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 12 points and Duane Notice added 10.
“I think we kind of gave into the pressure of what they were doing to us and we didn’t have anybody who was kind of able to step up and get stops or get rebounds,” Notice said. “So if we want to be good in the future we have to come collectively as a team to be able to do that.”
South Carolina has lost 20 of its last 21 SEC road games, including a 0-5 record this season.
Matthew Fisher-Davis’ free throw gave Vanderbilt an 11-4 lead with 12:26 left in the first half as South Carolina missed five of its first six shots from the floor.
The Gamecocks answered with a 12-2 run to take a 16-13 lead on Marcus Stroman’s free throw with 5:33 left in the first half.
Brian Steele’s 3-pointer with two seconds left gave South Carolina a 26-22 halftime lead.
South Carolina scored the first seven points of the second half, expanding its lead to 33-22 on Duane Notice’s layup.
Injuries have reduced the Gamecocks’ roster to 10 healthy players, but their bench still managed to outscore the Commodores 15-6.
South Carolina’s last win in Nashville was in March 2010.
The loss dropped South Carolina into 13th place in the 14-team SEC. Vanderbilt is in 12th.
Vanderbilt has won 13 of the last 17 against South Carolina.
South Carolina is trying to avoid a sixth straight losing season.
South Carolina: The spotlight of women’s basketball will be on the top-ranked Gamecocks when they take a 22-0 record into Monday’s showdown at No. 2 Connecticut, the two-time defending national champions.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores are two wins away from tying last year’s total (15-16.)
Vanderbilt closed the game with a 16-5 run to win by 15 points despite trailing by 12 earlier in the second half. The Commodores shot 52.4 percent from the floor in the second half while the Gamecocks hit just 31.8 percent.
Vanderbilt outrebounded South Carolina 33-20, including a 10-4 edge on the offensive glass. The Commodores outscored the Gamecocks 22-11 at the foul line. James Siakam was 6 for 7. South Carolina forward Laimonas Chatkevicius had an off night, shooting 1 of 7 from the floor for two points.
South Carolina hosts Missouri, the last-place team in the SEC, on Tuesday.
Vanderbilt hosts archrival Tennessee on Wednesday.