ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jaylen Barford scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half to help Arkansas hold off South Carolina for a 69-64 win in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday night.
The win is the seventh in the last nine games for the sixth-seeded Razorbacks (22-10), who advance to face No. 3 seed Florida on Friday night.
Barford, a first-team All-SEC selection, was 6 of 11 from the field and had a key 3-pointer and fast-break layup in the closing minutes. Daryl Macon added 12 points for Arkansas, hitting 8 of 8 free throws, including two in the final minute that helped seal the win.
Chris Silva had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the No. 11 seed Gamecocks (17-16), who advanced to the second round with a win over Mississippi on Wednesday night. Maik Kotsar also scored 15 points, and Frank Booker added 11.
Arkansas led 36-28 at halftime thanks to its performance at the free throw line, where it hit 14 of 15 in the half. The Razorbacks entered the game 12th in the SEC in free-throw percentage (67 percent), but they continued to shoot the ball well from the line in the second half — finishing 23 of 26 (88.5 percent) overall in the win.
South Carolina: The loss puts an end to any hopes South Carolina had of returning to the NCAA Tournament, where it reached the school's first Final Four a year ago. After trailing by as many as 15 points in the second half, the Gamecocks rallied and closed Arkansas' lead to two points several times in the closing minutes. However, they were unable to overcome a 38.3-percent (23 of 60) effort from the field — similar to the 41.2 percent South Carolina shot in a blowout loss at Arkansas on Feb. 7.
Arkansas: Sophomore Adrio Bailey started at power forward on Thursday night for Arkansas in place of Dustin Thomas, who was kicked off the team earlier this week for violating team rules. The 6-foot-7 Bailey was undersized against South Carolina's frontcourt for much of the night, but he scored nine points and had three steals and two blocks in 24 minutes — including a powerful dunk early in the second half.
The Gamecocks wait on their postseason fate.
Arkansas faces Florida in the quarterfinals on Friday night.
Follow Kurt Voigt on Twitter at @Kurt—Voigt—AP