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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) LSU coach Matt McMahon finally saw the mental toughness his team needs to succeed in the Southeastern Conference.

“They hit two (tie-breaking) 3s in the last minute and we still won,” McMahon said.

Jordan Wright finished with 14 points including two free throws with five seconds left as LSU erased a 16-point second half deficit to beat No. 11 South Carolina 64-63 on Saturday.

McMahon has seen his Tigers (13-12, 5-7 SEC) come close in several games. They lost by four, 73-69, to Texas A&M, by two, 68-66, at Georgia and by two, 82-80, at Florida last time out.

“I think our guys just stayed the course and found a way to get over the hump,” McMahon said.

It was more like a mountain when they trailed 41-25 after Zachary Davis' 3 pointer with 16:58 to play.

Wright felt the players didn't panic, but committed to getting themselves back into the contest. “Just staying poised, I think the team did a really good job of that,” he said. “We've been in close games and come out the other side of those games.”

South Carolina (21-5, 9-4) had a final chance, but Jacobi Wright's 3-pointer from the left corner hit off the rim and bounced away.

LSU players jumped and screamed in celebration while the large home crowd stood in shock.

Tyrell Ward led the Tigers with 16 points. Point guard Trae Hannibal, who played two seasons at South Carolina, had a game-high 12 rebounds.

This one looked over as South Carolina opened the second half with a 9-0 burst for their 16-point lead. Instead, the Gamecocks lost two in a row for the first time this season.

B.J. Mack had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead South Carolina. It looked like the Gamecocks might escape with victory after Ta'Lon Cooper made a 3-pointer from the top of the key for a 63-60 lead with 28.1 seconds left.

But Jordan Wright drove for a layup with 15.9 seconds to play to cut into the lead and the Tigers forced a tie up on the inbounds pass to Mack.

“I've just got to be stronger on that play,” said Mack, who said he should have immediately called time out after securing the inbounds pass.

Wright, the Tigers' leading scorer this season, drove inside again and was fouled by Collin Murray-Boyles. He swished both foul shots for the winning points.

THE BIG PICTURE

LSU: This was the Tigers first road win against a Top 25 team since winning at Kentucky in 2019. It was certainly a welcome result for a program that came in losing six of its past seven SEC games, including its past five on the road.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have not lost their composure this season, making them one of college basketball's biggest surprises. But South Carolina's typically reliable defense fell apart in the second half. The team must tighten that up if it hopes to continue chasing a league title.

TAKING BLAME

Gamecocks coach Lamont Paris said he was calling for his team to foul often in the final minute, but the message did not get through. “I was a little shell-shocked at some of our decisions,” he said.

POLL POSITION

Expect South Carolina to slide down the rankings after its 0-2 week. It's the first time this season the team has lost back-to-back contests. Mack said the team must learned from its mistakes this week to get themselves back on the winning track. “We've got to make sure we learn from this moment,” he said.

UP NEXT

LSU will return home to face No. 21 Kentucky on Wednesday night.

South Carolina goes to Mississippi on Saturday.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

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