COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Brian Richardson tied his career high with 20 points and South Carolina matched its total Southeastern Conference wins from a year ago with a 75-54 victory over Arkansas on Saturday.
The Gamecocks (12-7, 2-4 SEC) trailed by 12 less than five minutes into the game, but turned things around with a 40-11 run the rest of the period. Richardson was a big reason, scoring 11 points off three 3-pointers to push South Carolina to its first SEC victory of 20-points or more in seven seasons.
Arkansas (12-7, 3-3) could never get closer than 14 points in the second half as it lost its third straight league game on the road this season. Marshawn Powell had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Razorbacks, who had come in off a 26-point victory at home Wednesday night over Mississippi State.
Arkansas’ leading scorer coming, B.J. Young, was held to seven points — nine fewer than his average — on 3 of 12 shooting.
Bruce Ellington added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting for South Carolina.
Arkansas came in winning three of its last four games, although it had dropped both league contests on the road so far. But the Razorbacks came out on fire in this one, hitting six of their first nine shots to open up a 15-3 lead less than five minutes in after Rickey Scott’s three-point play and wide-open 3-pointer.
The Gamecocks put together an offensive stretch they’ve rarely had in coach Frank Martin’s first season with a 40-11 sprint to the half.
Richardson, a reserve, had all 11 of his first-half points and his three 3-pointers during the run. Lakeem Jackson’s 3-poniter with 7:58 left gave South Caroline the lead for good at 20-17 — and the team kept pouring it on the Razorbacks.
Richardson followed with a long-range shot and Bruce Ellington a driving layup as four Arkansas players watched. Richardson added five straight points and Ellington a 3 to put South Carolina ahead 35-19.
The Razorbacks, meanwhile, fell into an offensive funk. They were 3-of-14 from the field the last 15 minutes of the half and would’ve trailed by more had not Powell snuck behind the defense for a jam with less than a second to play.
Martin lit into freshman Mindaugas Kacinas for letting Powell get loose as the Gamecocks headed to the locker room ahead 43-26.
Richardson provided the scoring touch South Carolina had lacked this season — its four SEC losses had come by a combined 18 points. The reserve guard hit eight of his 13 shots and also collected six rebounds. Richardson had set his career high in a 56-54 loss at Mississippi State earlier this season, but then was a combined 3 for 12 shooting for 7 points in South Carolina’s next four games.
It was South Carolina’s first 20-point SEC victory since beating Mississippi State 83-61 on Feb. 11, 2006. The Gamecocks were 2-14 in the SEC last year, leading to the dismissal of coach Darrin Horn and the hiring of Martin from Kansas State.
Arkansas struggled to make shots in this one, going 2 of 16 on 3s.