COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina was up eight and as the final seconds ticked away, Vanderbilt went up for what appeared to be a meaningless layup.
But the Gamecocks' Sam Muldrow leaped up, got his fingertips on the ball, and ended up in his school's record books, getting just the second triple-double in South Carolina's history in an 83-75 win over the No. 22 Commodores on Saturday.
Muldrow owned overtime, getting five points, including a crucial 3, and four blocks in the extra period.
"Triple-double the hard way, in blocks. It's just unbelievable — great game," Gamecocks coach Darrin Horn said. "Keep in mind he did that picking up his fourth foul, I think, with 4:53 on the clock."
Freshman Bruce Ellington, in his first league game, got the Gamecocks (10-4, 1-0) to overtime. He scored 12 of the Gamecocks final 15 points in regulation — burying four 3-pointers in seven minutes, including the final points of the second half that tied it at 72 with 2:09 to go.
He then gave South Carolina its first lead of the game with a layup on the first possession of overtime and his quick pass to Muldrow for an open 3 put South Carolina up 81-75 with 2:18 to go.
Ellington finished with 22 points and has scored at least 20 in five of the first 14 games of his college career.
"I just wanted to go out there and play hard and just compete and win. I was very excited. My teammates got me into the game, I was nervous at first but they just told me to stay focused," Ellington said.
The Gamecocks never led in regulation, but used a 20-9 run to come back after trailing 63-52 after Jenkins' 3-pointer with 8:42 left.
"Once we got it chipped away and got it down, with young guys, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel," Horn said.
Lakeem Jackson added 15 points and Malik Cooke had eight points and 13 rebounds for South Carolina.
John Jenkins led Vanderbilt (11-3, 0-1) with 27 points after missing the last game with a concussion. Jeffery Taylor added 14 points and Lance Goulbourne had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt jumped to an 11-point lead in the first 14 minutes of the game. But the Commodores could never put the Gamecocks away.
"Even when we were ahead, I didn't like our look. I didn't like our demeanor," Stallings said. "They played with more energy than we did. They deserved to win the game."
After Festus Ezeli sent Ellington to the floor well after the whistle on a foul, several of his teammates jawed at the Commodores. They seemed rattled at first, missing four lay-ups or putbacks on one possession. But Ellington buried back-to-back 3s and all Vanderbilt mustered the rest of regulation was a dunk by Ezeli and three free throws by Jenkins.
"We've got to control our emotions, but at the same time, we're going to fight and we're going to compete, we want to play tough and we're not going to back down from anybody," Horn said.
Especially Muldrow, who has spent his four years in South Carolina mostly in the shadows of the little guys like all-SEC guard Devan Downey. Just two games ago, Muldrow managed only two blocks, one rebound and no points in a loss to Boston College.
Asked after the game what he can do next, the soft-spoken Muldrow paused, thinking and then said "''I don't know."