Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Christiaan Jones scored 18 points in his homecoming as Stetson beat an SEC school for the first time since 2004 with a 63-56 victory over South Carolina on Monday.
The Gamecocks (8-5) had looked to build off its last outing, a 70-59 win at defending national champion Virginia on Dec. 22. Instead, South Carolina was stung by Jones, a Columbia native who played high school basketball with Gamecock coach Frank Martin’s son Brandon before joining the Hatters (6-9).
Jones had two 3-pointers and was 10-of-13 from the foul line in Stetson’s first victory against an SEC team since defeating Georgia 56-52 on Dec. 29, 2004.
South Carolina cut the Hatters’ 13-point second-half lead to 51-49 after Justin Minaya’s 3-pointer with 5:22 to play.
But Kenny Aninye hit two foul shots and Jahlil Rawley a 3-pointer to extend Stetson’s edge. The Gamecocks could not respond.
South Carolina had the past eight days off since stunning Virginia—and it showed.
The Gamecocks missed seven of eight shots as the Hatters took off on a 16-6 run midway through the opening half for a 28-19 lead.
Rawley began the surge with a basket, Rob Perry scored five points in the run and Jones hit two foul shots for the Hatters’ large lead.
South Carolina’s two double-digit scorers coming in, AJ Lawson and Jair Bolden, were held to a combined eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Maik Kotsar led the Gamecocks with 11 points.
THE BIG PICTURE
Stetson: The Hatters hadn’t played like a team capable of taking down a Power 5 opponent. But the steadiness Stetson showed could serve them well with Atlantic Sun Conference play set to open later this week.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks certainly stubbed their toe in a big way in what figured to be a final tune up for SEC play. Instead, South Carolina must re-figure its rotation and best decide how to use its best player, Lawson, who played just 13 minutes.
Stetson starts Atlantic Sun Conference play at home against Lipscomb on Thursday night.
South Carolina begins SEC play at home against Florida on Jan. 7.