South Carolina cut Missouri’s lead from 10 to four with 5:54 remaining. On the next possession, Watson drilled a 3-pointer. After another Gamecocks’ basket, Watson knocked down a triple to extend Missouri’s lead to eight with 4:34 left.
Missouri (13-15, 4-12 Southeastern Conference) held off South Carolina’s push from that point on. It was Watson’s second consecutive game as the team’s leading scorer. He finished 4 for 9 from beyond the arc.
Hassani Gravett led South Carolina (14-15, 9-7) with 20 points. But the team’s leading scorer for the season, forward Chris Silva, was in foul trouble all game and fouled out with 1:44 remaining. He played just 15 minutes and scored 12 points.
The Tigers took advantage of Silva’s limited time. Forward Kevin Puryear scored 18 points, including 8 for 9 from the free-throw line. Puryear is averaging 6.9 points per game and has not scored in double-digits in conference play this season.
The Gamecocks also played without their second leading scorer, freshman A.J. Lawson, who suffered a low left ankle sprain in the second half of South Carolina’s game against Alabama on Tuesday.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks faced an uphill climb to reach tournament play entering Saturday. A loss to Missouri may have killed their chances. South Carolina will likely have to win out in the regular season and put together a strong conference tournament showing to be considered for the tourney.
Missouri: The Tigers have played tough in recent home games, and this was another example. Missouri is not in the tournament picture, but play like today’s could help the Tigers reach the .500 mark by the end of the season.
South Carolina will play visitor to Texas A&M on Tuesday.
Missouri plays its final road game on Wednesday against Georgia.
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