It started out as a worrisome game for South Carolina, its weaknesses in full glare and its strengths undermined.
It finished as another reminder that as long as Devan Downey is in uniform, this season is far from lost.
USC's star guard put forth another remarkable performance on Wednesday, leading his team back from 11 points down to a 67-58 victory against LSU.
"The little guy did what he does best," LSU coach Trent Johnson said of the 5-foot-9 Downey.
Never miss a local story.
Downey had 29 points, following a 33-point effort at Auburn on Saturday, as USC (11-5) is 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1997.
Given the upcoming stretch - home against Vanderbilt, at Ole Miss, at Florida, home against Kentucky - it was critical for the Gamecocks to get two opening wins.
And again, Downey was to credit.
"Monster game," said teammate Brandis Raley-Ross, who was the only other double-figure scorer for USC. "He can put up numbers like that. He's been putting in extra work in the gym, and it's paying off."
LSU led 35-24 near the end of the first half when Downey hit a long 3 at the halftime buzzer, starting a 13-2 USC run.
Then with the game tied, Downey turned it on even more. The result was a 17-1 run, keyed by 29 seconds that was pure Downey.
With 3:58 remaining, he made a jumper to make it 57-50. Thirteen seconds later, he forced a turnover, settled behind the arc and drained a 3.
Downey then stole the inbounds pass and missed a runner which Lakeem Jackson rebounded. Jackson scored to a 62-50 lead.
"Off defense," Downey said. "Every time you're out there (and) you're playing good defensively, good things seem to happen on the offensive end."
As if to punctuate how his night was, with two minutes left Downey heaved a long 3 - and it banked in.
"Nothing he does surprises me," USC coach Darrin Horn said. "Part of what keyed that (run) was a play we ran out of a timeout. I don't know if we ran it all year but that's what he can do. That's what makes special players special is they can do what they want to do."
LSU (9-7, 0-2) was in control of the first half, killing USC with entry passes for open layups. Offensively, USC had trouble getting points against LSU's zone defense.
The Gamecocks turned it into their kind of game in the second half, getting outside shots and limiting LSU's easy layups. They also got a number of chances in transition.
"The layups they were getting in the (first) half became deflections and turnovers for us in the second," Downey said.
LSU coach Trent Johnson pointed out that one of his team's errors in the final 10 minutes was trying to go "99 mph."
"You're not gonna out-quick Downey."
LSU 35 23-58 USC 27 40-67
3-Point Goals: LSU 1-7, (Spencer 1-6, Mitchell 0-1); USC 11-32 (Downey 6-12, Baniulis 2-4, Raley-Ross 2-9, Muldrow 1-2, Spinella 0-1, Galloway 0-4). Turnovers: LSU 15, USC 12. Officials-Anthony Jordan, Joe Lindsay, Doug Sirmons. A-12,103.