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Florida 72, South Carolina 68: Gritty Gators hold on in Columbia

Free throws! They help!

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

From the files of I Didn't Expect That To Happen, Florida won a game down the stretch by making free throws.

I know. It happened. Really. And Eli Carter made some of them!

Florida's 72-68 win over South Carolina wasn't sealed until Carter's final two free throws with seconds left, but the Gators took back the lead and controlled the game for much of the second half after leading it for most of the first half and faltering down the stretch.

And Carter's free throws just capped a fantastic night from the charity stripe for the Gators: They went 25-for-30 there, and made their last eight free throws in the final minute, helping stave off three straight three-point possessions by the Gamecocks that sliced a 66-59 lead to the final margin.

The Gators never led by more than eight in the second half, and had an 11-point lead in the first half for all of 16 seconds — and subsequently gave up all of it by allowing an 11-0 run — but led for more than 30 of the game's 40 minutes, and took back the lead with a 15-2 spurt. 14 offense rebounds — despite the absence of Jon Horford, suspended for the game by Billy Donovan for "conduct detrimental to the team" — helped the Gators make up for shooting under 43 percent from the field, and making just five of 19 threes.

Dorian Finney-Smith tied South Carolina's Tyrone Johnson with 20 points, and added seven rebounds. Michael Frazier II had 17 points (and just three threes) off the bench.

With the win, Florida runs its program-record SEC win streak to 19 games, and its program-record SEC road win streak to 10 games.