WACO, Texas (AP)—Devan Downey entered Friday’s game against Baylor as South Carolina’s leading scorer. After he shot 1-for-7 from the field and scored only four points in the first half, his coach wasn’t worried.
“I thought he was terrific in the first half,” South Carolina first-year coach Darrin Horn said. “He ran our team, he got other guys shots, he defended. He did all the little things. In the second half, he did the same things.”
Downey finished with 23 points in leading the Gamecocks past No. 19 Baylor 85-84. Zam Fredrick scored 19, including the go-ahead basket with 5.1 seconds left. Mike Holmes had 11 points, and Dominique Archie and Brandis Raley-Ross scored 10 each for the Gamecocks (10-2).
Curtis Jerrells scored 22 for Baylor (12-2). Kevin Rogers had 14 points and 13 rebounds, Tweety Carter scored 18 points and Henry Dugat had 16.
“Downey’s a great player,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “He controlled everything. He created not only for himself, with eight assists and one turnover. But we really struggled for answers. We’ll watch tape and see what we can do, but we’re not going to face another guard possibly as good as him the rest of the season. When he’s on, he’s as good as anybody in the country.”
Downy seemingly drove at will. He scored on five layups and two jumpers in the lane in the second half.
“From being patient in the first half and getting my team involved and spreading the floor, I feel like I’m quick enough that if we spread the floor I can get in gaps,” he said. “When the opportunity was there, I just took it.”
Baylor cut the lead to one on Rogers’ tip-in with 32.5 seconds to play. After a Bears timeout, South Carolina’s Evaldas Baniulis was called for traveling on the inbounds play.
On Baylor’s next possession, Dunn rebounded Carter’s missed jumper and was fouled by Holmes. Dunn made both free throws for an 84-83 Baylor lead with 12.9 seconds left.
After a South Carolina timeout with 8.6 seconds remaining, Fredrick got free inside for a layup to put the Gamecocks up for good.
Baylor’s last-second shot by Carter was blocked by Raley-Ross.
Baylor trimmed the lead to 74-73 on a 3-pointer by Dugat with 4:03 left, but South Carolina responded with a tip-in by Holmes and a dunk by Archie.
South Carolina trailed by five before Downey hit a layup and a 3 to tie the game at 44 with 15:14 left. Baylor answered with a rebound and dunk by Quincy Acy and a steal and layup from Dugat to go up 48-44. South Carolina came back with a 3-pointer by Dominique Archie and took its first lead on a jumper in the lane by Downey.
From there, the Gamecocks went on a 16-9 run to go ahead 63-53 with 8:30 to play. Downey scored eight points during the stretch.
Baylor took a 10-point lead midway through the first half when Jerrells converted a three-point play to put the Bears up 23-13 with 10:54 remaining.
Later in the half, South Carolina cut the lead to three on a 3-pointer by Austin Steed. Baylor answered with a five-point spurt to go back up by eight before Holmes’ dunk pulled South Carolina to 37-31 with 2:50 left. Baylor led 40-36 at halftime after Rogers’ tip-in at the buzzer of Jerrells’ off-balance 3-point attempt was waved off by officials after review.