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USC wins OT nail-biter over Arkansas

South Carolina's Dominique Archie, left, battles for the loose ball with Arkansas's Courtney Fortson, right, during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009, at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
South Carolina's Dominique Archie, left, battles for the loose ball with Arkansas's Courtney Fortson, right, during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009, at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Devan Downey scored 25 points, including four free throws in the final 12 seconds of overtime to help South Carolina to an 82-78 win over Arkansas on Saturday night.

Downey's pair of free throws with 12 seconds left gave the Gamecocks (19-6, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) a 78-74 lead — the first time either team had been up by more than 3 since just under nine minutes to go in regulation.

After Jason Henry hit a 3-pointer for the Razorbacks (13-12, 1-11), Zam Fredrick made two free throws with 5.3 seconds left to stretch the Gamecocks' lead to three. Downey then fouled Henry with 2.1 seconds left before he could try his own tying 3. Henry made the first, but committed a lane violation as he tried to rebound his intentional miss on his second attempt.

Henry had a career-high 27 off the bench to lead Arkansas.

With the win, South Carolina remains in a tie for the lead in the SEC East with Florida and Kentucky. The Wildcats come to Columbia Wednesday, as the Gamecocks will try to sweep them for only the second time since joining the SEC in 1991.

South Carolina led 41-33 after Evaldas Baniulis hit a 3-pointer with 13:29 to go in the game, but Arkansas went on a 17-5 run to take a 50-46 lead on Marcus Britt's bucket with just under nine minutes to go.

Mike Holmes then scored two straight baskets for the Gamecocks off offensive rebounds.

The lead would change hands four more times, with the Razorbacks last leading 68-66 on Rotnei Clarke's long jumper to open overtime.

Both teams had a chance at the end. But Downey stripped Courtney Fortson with 6 seconds to go, and Fredrick missed a 3 at the buzzer.

Mike Holmes added 11 points and eight rebounds for South Carolina, who with the win will finish at least .500 in the SEC for only the second time in past 11 seasons. The Gamecocks haven't had a winning conference record since 1998. They also stay on track for their first bid to the NCAA tournament since 2004.

Clarke had 14 points for the Hogs, and Fortson added 12 points, but turned the ball over 10 times. The Razorbacks had 25 turnovers total as they lost their seventh in a row and 11th in their last 12. They will have to win three of their last four to keep from having their worst SEC season since joining the league in 1991.

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