COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Freshman Nick Calathes scored 21 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer during a late 13-2 run, in Florida's 73-71 victory over South Carolina on Wednesday night.
The Gators (17-3, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) beat the Gamecocks for the fourth straight time, and send South Carolina coach Dave Odom off a loser in his first game since announcing his retirement after this season.Odom had hoped detailing his future in midseason would imbue his players with a "nothing-to-lose" attitude the rest of the way. They played that way much of the game until the two-time defending NCAA champs took control.South Carolina (9-9, 1-3) led by as many as nine points in the second half was still ahead 65-60 after Dominique Archie's flying jam with 5:57 left.But Florida used its backbreaking run to pull things out. Jai Lucas had two 3-pointers before Calathes' 3 put the Gators ahead to stay, 68-67.Dan Werner had Florida's fourth 3-pointer in the run and Marreese Speights an inside bucket to close the surge for a 73-67 lead.South Carolina got within a basket, but Devan Downey's three-quarter court heave at the buzzer never had a chance.Downey led South Carolina with 24 points.Speights had his fifth double-double of the season with 22 points and 13 rebounds.Archie finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for South Carolina.Odom got a cordial cheer from South Carolina fans during introductions before the game. The crowd kept up the applause as the Gamecocks hung tough with powerful, but young, Florida.When Calathes' jumper put the Gators ahead 26-25 with 4:59 to go, South Carolina responded with a 13-4 run. Downey regained the lead for the Gamecocks, getting fouled after his driving basket and making the free throw.Evka Baniulis followed with a 3-pointer. Zam Fredrick had another basket from behind the arc. When Archie made two foul shots, the Gamecocks lead 38-30.The Gators rallied in the final minute on Lucas' 3-pointer and a three-point play by Speights when the forward got past South Carolina's defense for a right-handed jam and was fouled.