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Turnovers doom No. 9 Virginia against South Carolina, 70-59

Diakite scores career-high 21 in the loss.

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia offense was abysmal Sunday afternoon as the No. 9 Cavaliers gifted the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks a 70-59 victory behind 19 turnovers. South Carolina scored 23 points off of Virginia’s giveaways, and used the hot shooting of Jair Bolden — a career-high 22 points — to hand the Cavaliers their second loss of the season.

Virginia fell to 9-2 (2-0 ACC) with the loss as the shooting and turnover woes continue for the reigning National Champions.

The Cavaliers mounted a furious comeback to tie the game at 45, but were undone by timely shots by South Carolina, missed shots, and untimely turnovers down the stretch.

Mamadi Diakite scored a career-high 21 points in the loss.

Virginia shot 44% from the field and 33% from three for the game, and went 17-for-22 from the line. The turnovers cannot be understated in this one, and Kihei Clark was particularly bad with seven on Sunday evening (13 in the past two games combined).

Stattmann opened the scoring on Virginia’s first possession with a three from the corner. Each team grabbed an offensive rebound early in the game, with South Carolina able to convert theirs into a bucket from Maik Kotsar to make it 3-2. Bolden quickly gave the Gamecocks the lead with a three from the corner, and a turnover led to a breakaway dunk that gave the visitors a four point lead with 17:29 to play in the first half.

Diakite cut it to 7-5 with a bucket, but South Carolina connected on another three to double up the Hoos 10-5. Keyshawn Bryant took advantage of a missed jumper form Morsell, turning it into a fast break that led to an old-fashioned three-point play and an eight point lead for USC.

Virginia cut into the lead by a point with one free throw from Diakite, and a three from Woldetensae made it 13-9 with 14:12 remaining. Bolden responded with his second three of the game, and South Carolina made the most of a broken play to get an easy dunk for a nine-point lead. Diakite’s attempt at shaving the deficit down with two free throws was answered with another tough shot from Bolden.

Virginia’s fifth turnover led to Bolden’s third three of the game and a 12-point South Carolina lead. Bolden, who averaged 9.1 points per game coming into the game, had that by the 10:29 mark of the first half. Jay Huff ended a 2:30+ scoring drought for the Hoos with a hook shot, and a shot clock violation on the other end breathed some life into the understandably listless crowd at John Paul Jones Arena.

Diakite was unable to capitalize on a three from the corner, and Bolden connected on another runner in the lane to make it 25-13. Despite playing with only one good hand, Braxton Key came up with a block in transition to keep the deficit at 12. Three points at the line for Virginia (one from Diakite and two from Key) made it 25-16 as the clock ticked through seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Woldetensae couldn’t get a three to fall, but Key was in the right position for the offensive rebound and put back. South Carolina answered with another tough bucket to return the lead to nine, and another turnover led to a run out for the Gamecocks to make it 29-18 with 5:38 to play.

Bolden hit a long two moving away from the basket, but Diakite answered with a shot off the glass on the other end to keep the deficit at 11. Diakite made it a nine-point game, but yet again, the Gamecocks answered. Clark went to the line and made both to cut the deficit to 33-24, and neither team would score again as the two went into the break.

South Carolina made the most of Virginia’s plethora of turnovers, getting 12 points as a result of the Hoos’ 12 miscues. It was horribly sloppy from the Cavaliers in the first 20 minutes, with Clark turning the ball over four times himself.

The Gamecocks went 14-for-25 (56%) from the field and 4-for-10 (40%) from three in the first half, led by Bolden’s career-high 15 points. No other USC player had more than six points.

Virginia shot 41.2% from the field and 25% from three, getting 10 points out of Diakite in the first half. Key had four points, four rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in 13 minutes of action. It was nearly double the time he saw in his first game back after breaking his wrist, and his minutes were certainly impactful.

Diakite had a good look in the lane to open the second half, but it careened off the rim. South Carolina was unable to connect on its first possession, and Key made the most of it with a corner three off a dish from Clark. The Gamecocks pushed the lead back to nine with an and-one bucket, and the 13th turnover of the game sopped up all the momentum Virginia had gained to open the second half.

Two more points from the free throw line for the Hoos and another turnover caused basket kept the differential at 11 in favor of the visiting squad. A tough bucket from Diakite made it a nine point game once again, and Key found Casey Morsell in transition for the hoop and harm. Morsell canned the free throw to make it 42-36 with 13:23 to play, and South Carolina turned the ball over with an offensive foul on its ensuing possession (which you could barely hear the whistle over the crowd).

Morsell pulled the Hoos within three with a huge shot from the corner, but Bolden responded with a three off of a broken offensive rebound. Virginia came up with an immediate answer as Morsell drove the lane and dished to Clark for the three to make it 45-42 with 11:49 remaining.

Another offensive foul — this one a charge — against the Gamecocks gave the ball back to the Hoos. Tony Bennett drew up a beautiful play coming out of the timeout as Clark found a streaking Diakite for an emphatic dunk that pulled the Hoos within one. After a turnover by the Gamecocks, Key tied the game at the line — making one of two — and continuing a 16-3 run over 4+ minutes for the Cavaliers.

South Carolina quickly retook the lead with back-to-back buckets in the paint as the clock ticked through 10 minutes remaining. A free throw gave South Carolina a 50-45 lead, and the Gamecocks switched to zone. Huff found Diakite for a dunk, and the senior big man converted at the line to make it a two-point game.

Diakite was called for a foul, and USC’s A.J. Lawson made one to give the Gamecocks a three-point advantage. Huff got a shot at the rim to go to bring Virginia within one, but a foul called on Morsell put SC in the bonus and returned the Gamecocks’ lead to three with 8:12 to play.

South Carolina built its lead to five, and both teams traded player control fouls. Dodson hit yet another tough shot to make it 57-50, but Clark answered to keep it a two possession game. A brutal three from the corner from Justin Minaya put SC up eight and built the lead to 10 moments later at the free throw line.

Virginia mounted another mini-comeback with a three from Stattmann followed by a dunk by Huff to make it a seven-point game as the clock closed in on two minutes to play. Dodson air-balled a three, but Jermaine Cousinard was in the right spot for the rebound and put-back.

South Carolina’s 70 points were the most allowed by Virginia this season, and Virginia’s 19 turnovers were also a season high.

Next up, the Hoos will look to rebound with a game against Navy on December 29.