FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Jonathon Modica dribbled near midcourt as the clock ticked down, ignoring the crowd's pleas to try one more 3-pointer.
He'd already done plenty.
Modica scored a career-high 37 points Saturday to lead Arkansas to an easy 73-59 win over South Carolina. He had 20 in the first half as the Razorbacks rolled to a 39-21 lead, and when the Gamecocks rallied briefly late in the second, Modica scored eight in a row to put the game out of reach.
"We came into a must-win game, and I felt like I owed it to my team to step up and have a good performance," Modica said.
Arkansas was coming off a 78-76 loss at Kentucky a week ago in which the Wildcats rallied from an 18-point deficit. The Razorbacks (15-6, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) have lost four league games by a combined 12 points. Their four wins are by 12, 16, 13 and 14.
South Carolina pulled to 65-55 with 2:55 remaining, but Modica had a driving 3-point play, a layup off a fast break and a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 18.
"He was cutting and moving, and he was hard to guard," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "Give his teammates some credit too for knowing that he had a hot hand and riding him out. We just jumped on his back."
Modica finished 11-for-17 from the field and 6-for-9 from 3-point range, surpassing his previous career high of 33 points set in 2004 against Mississippi State. He scored the most points by an Arkansas player since Alex Dillard had 39 during the 1993-94 season.
"Any shot that Modica took today was a good shot," forward Charles Thomas said. "He really created a spark for us that set the tone."
Neither team had played since last weekend, and both struggled offensively early. South Carolina led 6-2 before Modica made the first of four first-half 3-pointers with 15:04 remaining. That shot started a 7-0 run that put Arkansas ahead for good.
Tarence Kinsey scored 14 points for the Gamecocks (11-10, 2-6).
Both teams play again Wednesday night. South Carolina is at No. 8 Florida, and Arkansas is at No. 24 Louisiana State.
"The best part of their season lies ahead," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said of Arkansas. "There may be a more talented team in this league, but I'm not sure."
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