AJ Lawson led South Carolina with 19 points and the Gamecocks came up big on defense at the end of the game to earn a 79-77 win at Arkansas Wednesday night.
Lawson, who had been struggling of late, bounced back with 19 points, including three big 3-pointers, and five rebounds. Jair Bolden added 12 points, while Maik Kotsar had 10 and nine rebounds. Freshman Trae Hannibal added a career-high 11 points off the bench.
Led by Hannibal and fellow freshmen Wildens Leveque and Jalyn McCreary, the Gamecocks got 37 points from its bench.
South Carolina improved to 12-8 and 4-3 in the SEC. The Gamecocks return home Saturday to face Missouri at 3:30 p.m.
The Gamecocks got off to a strong start, playing tight defense and jumping out to a 18-7 lead on Kotsar's inside basket. Arkansas cut the lead to three but Lawson hit a three and followed with a fast-break dunk to give Carolina a 38-28 lead.
South Carolina led 38-32 at the half but Arkansas rallied to tie it at 40-40 early in the second half. The game was tight the rest of the way. Lawson's 3 put the Gamecocks up 68-63 with six minutes remaining but Arkansas hit a 3 to cut the lead to two.
Arkansas was then called for a technical foul and Bolden and Leveque combined to hit four free throws to give Carolina a 72-66 lead with five minutes remaining.
Bolden hit a 3 with two minutes left to put the Gamecocks up 78-72 but they struggled from the free throw line and Arkansas converted two three-point plays to close the gap.
Jermaine Couisnard hit one of two free throws with 26.9 seconds remaining to put Carolina up 79-77. The Gamecocks then locked down their defense and denied the Razorbacks a shot until the very end.
Arkansas in-bounded the ball with seven seconds remaining but Hannibal denied the ball to leading scorer Mason Jones, who had 34 points, and Lawson defended a 3 by Isaiah Joe as time ran out.
Martin was pleased with the spark Hannibal gave the Gamecocks off the bench.
"Trae keeps getting better," Martin told SEC Network. "He never hung his head. He is growing up."