South Carolina fades in 2nd half, loses free throw battle in 71-65 loss at No. 22 Missouri

Frank Martin wanted to talk about anything but free throws.

"I ain't going there," he said after South Carolina squandered a 13-point second-half lead in a 71-65 loss at No. 22 Missouri on Tuesday night. "You ask me to talk about the economy, I'll give you whatever you want. I'll give you my opinions on whatever.

"Don't make me go there because it won't be good for me, my school. Definitely my wife will be (angry) at me because you know what comes after I go there."

Missouri was 28 of 36 from the free-throw line overcoming 33-percent shooting and a dismal 5-for-27 showing from 3-point range, while the Gamecocks were 11 for 17 at the line.

"We committed some over-the-backs and some hand checks that we can't commit," Martin said. "Those are bad fouls. I thought both teams were going at it at the rim," Martin said before pausing. "I'm not going to go there because I'm probably not going to wake up really happy tomorrow if I go there. I don't know what to tell you. They came at us. We went at them."

Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown hit key 3-pointers in the final 1:11 to help secure the victory for the Tigers. Ross had a career-best 21 points and Brown had 17 for Missouri (14-4, 3-2 Southeastern Conference), which is 11-0 at home this season and has won 12 straight at the Mizzou Arena since losing to Kansas State and Martin, now in his first year at South Carolina, on Feb. 21, 2012.

Paid attendance of 11,830 was more than 3,000 shy of capacity, but Martin thought the crowd was a major factor. Martin, who's 6-5 against Missouri but just 1-5 on the road, said that's always been the case.

Missouri is 26-1 at home the last two seasons under Haith. The lone loss is to Martin and the Wildcats.

"It's a hard, hard place to win," Martin said. "The record here is just ridiculous."

Brenton Williams had 16 points with four 3-pointers for South Carolina (11-7, 1-4), which has lost four conference games by a combined 18 points and faced its first ranked opponent of the season. RJ Slawson added 10 points for the Gamecocks, who shot 37 percent.

Ross' 3-pointer made it 66-63 with 1:11 to go and Brown's 3-pointer made it 69-65 with 14 seconds left.

"When we had the 13 point lead, we went on a little stretch between the 16 and 12 minute mark where we didn't execute offense very well and the crowd started get into it and we started to sort of take bad shots out of our offense," Williams said. "They started making runs on fast breaks on the other end."

Brown had eight points in a 20-2 run that gave Missouri a five-point lead with just under 12 minutes to go. Alex Oriakhi was 10 for 10 at the line and fouled out in the final minute with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers.

South Carolina went more than 5 1-2 minutes between points, finally ending the drought on a tip-in by Brian Richardson that cut the deficit to three with 11:34 left.

Missouri was 2 for 23 from 3-point range before Phil Pressey banged one in off the glass for a two-point lead with 4:39 to go.

Missouri trailed at halftime for the third time at home after missing its first 13 3-point attempts, a slump ended by Ross with 32 seconds to go, and shot just 20 percent overall to trail 35-27. Pressey had no points, two assists and three turnovers, and three players were 0 for 3 from long range, and the Tigers stayed in range with 14-for-17 free throw shooting.

South Carolina hit four of its first five 3-pointers, three days after going just 4 for 21 in a home loss to Vanderbilt. Williams had three of the 3-pointers for the Gamecocks, who shot 41 percent.