COLUMBIA -- Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings didn't have to think too hard to pinpoint why the Commodores lost this one.
Stallings watched, often in awe, as South Carolina guard Devan Downey almost single-handedly changed the game's momentum and its outcome in the Gamecocks 86-76 victory on Wednesday night.
"He's a guy that's capable of taking over games and he took over this one in the second half," Stallings said.
Downey scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the last 11 minutes, helping the Gamecocks snap a five-game losing streak to Vanderbilt.
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South Carolina set a number of benchmarks for first-year coach Darrin Horn.
The Gamecocks' 15th win surpassed the 14 they posted in each of the previous two seasons. They won three straight regular-season games in the Southeastern Conference for the first time since 2006. And they've marked themselves as players in an SEC race where hardly anyone has taken a stranglehold of the league this year.
Credit Downey as much as anyone.
The Commodores (12-8, 1-5) did a good job early in the game keeping Downey, the SEC's second-leading scorer, off balance and off target.
Vanderbilt wiped out South Carolina's 13-point lead, and led 49-48 on Brad Tinsley's 3-pointer with 11:30 left.
Then Downey found his game and lifted the Gamecocks to victory.
He hit a pair of foul shots that regained the lead for South Carolina, then followed with a spinning jumper in the lane that made it 52-49. Downey added eight more points in what turned into a 22-7 Gamecocks' run.
Downey closed the stretch with a driving layup to put the Gamecocks ahead 70-56, then gestured wildly to the cheering crowd when Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings called a timeout to regroup his club.
Vanderbilt, which hadn't lost to South Carolina since 2006, never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
"We couldn't do anything with him as the game wore on," Stallings said. "That's what he does, he gets better as games go on and we know that. We were prepared for that, but we couldn't stop him."
Few teams have.
Downey was glad for the winning streak. Things get decidedly harder for South Carolina with upcoming road games with Kentucky and Florida.
The way South Carolina's going, Downey thinks anything's possible.
"That's the whole key. I tell the team all the time, play hard and play with confidence and whatever happens happens," Downey said.
Horn knows Downey's importance. He was just as pleased how his team handled losing its first big lead and bouncing back to its second.
"It didn't look like they got really worked up about it," Horn said of the Gamecocks' demeanor when Vanderbilt moved in front. "There was a great deal of confidence and we continued to play the way we needed to play. That was really good to see."
Something else that had to be good for the Gamecocks chances -- the Commodores did not start star sophomore A.J. Ogilvy, the team's top scorer at 15 points a game who's been battling a sore foot and flu-like symptons.
Ogilvy had just three points and was 0 of 3 from the floor before fouling out, his third straight game without double-figure points. He did have 11 rebounds in his 21 minutes.
Vanderbilt had hoped to wipe away the memory of its loss to Florida on Saturday when the Gators made an incredible 15 3-pointers in a 94-69 victory.
And then the Gamecocks started doing the same thing in a 14-0 first-half run.
Bradis Raley-Ross had two 3-pointers during the run, Zam Fredrick added a jumper from beyond the arc, Mike Holmes followed with an old fashioned three-point play and then Dominique Archie hit a 3-pointer to make it 24-13.
Vanderbilt's young team had trouble handling the ball with 22 turnovers.
Downey had three of South Carolina's nine steals and four of its eight assists.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- James Johnson's layup with 0.8 seconds remaining helped No. 6 Wake Forest upended No. 1 Duke 70-68 on Wednesday night.
Johnson finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Al-Farouq Aminu had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Demon Deacons (17-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).
They bounced back from last week's home loss that knocked them from No. 1 by leading the Blue Devils for nearly the entire way -- before letting a late 13-point lead slip away and recovering just in time to claim the fifth victory over a top-ranked team in school history.
Kyle Singler had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Duke (18-2, 5-1), which had its 10-game winning streak snapped.
Gerald Henderson added 20 points, and his jumper over Johnson with 10 seconds left tied it at 68, and capped the late 20-7 rally that got them back in the game.
Wake Forest raced downcourt, and Teague and Aminu missed layups in traffic, but during the rebound, Henderson was called for traveling. That gave the back to Wake Forest with 2.6 seconds left, and L.D. Williams inbounded it under the basket to Johnson, whose layup in the final second banked through to the delight of a packed crowd at Joel Coliseum.
Singler's full-court inbounds pass for Henderson was tipped by Williams, sending Wake Forest's tie-dye-clad student section spilling onto the court for the second time this month. They whooped it up in similar fashion 2 1/2 weeks ago when they knocked off then-No. 3 North Carolina.
Jon Scheyer had 13 points and McClure finished with 12 rebounds for Duke, which was playing its first game as No. 1 since 2006 and wound up becoming the latest top-ranked team to fall in Winston-Salem.
Jeff Teague scored 11 points -- 10 fewer than his average -- on 4-of-14 shooting for the Demon Deacons, who were playing for the first time since their loss to Virginia Tech a week earlier cost them the second No. 1 ranking in school history.
Henderson's jumper capped a remarkable rally for the Blue Devils, who trailed 61-48 with 8:49 remaining.
Singler had 10 points during the burst, which ended with a flurry in the final seconds. Scheyer's 3-pointer from the corner over Johnson hit the front of the rim, but the Duke guard hustled for the rebound and called the Blue Devils' final timeout with 17.4 seconds left. Henderson inbounded the ball to David McClure, who got it back to Henderson for his big jumper.
Wake Forest took its first double-figure lead of the game after a pair of spectacular plays in the open court.
Johnson put the Demon Deacons up 54-43 with 11 1/2 minutes left when his steal from Nolan Smith led to a breakaway dunk. That came seconds after Aminu's highlight-reel jam when he took a between-the-legs feed from Ishmael Smith. They later stretched their lead to 13 when David Weaver laid in Smith's alley-oop pass with 8:49 remaining to make it 61-48.
Weaver -- one of two Demon Deacons who are 6-foot-11 or taller to get in the game -- finished with nine critical points for Wake Forest. The ACC's leader in both field-goal percentage, on offense and defense, shot 40 percent and held undersized Duke to 33 percent shooting.
That helped Wake Forest overcome a rare 47-43 rebounding disadvantage. The Blue Devils -- who used strong offensive rebounding to stay in the game early -- managed just three of their 15 offensive boards in the second half. The Demon Deacons outscored Duke 42-24 in the paint.