East Carolina’s Jayden Gardner starts to celebrate during the closing minutes of the second half of Wednesday’s game at Greenville, N.C. Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Jayden Gardner had 21 points and 15 rebounds to help East Carolina stun fifth-ranked Houston 82-73 on Wednesday night, securing the Pirates’ first win against a ranked opponent in nearly two decades.

Tremont Robinson-White added 17 points for East Carolina, which defied season-long offensive struggles against one of the nation’s top defensive teams. East Carolina shot 47% and made 11 of 24 3-pointers – and more impressively, the Pirates led for the last 12-plus minutes against a Houston team that struggled to make much of anything after halftime.

East Carolina (8-6, 2-6 American Athletic Conference) hadn’t won a game in more than a month between five straight losses and three postponements. But the Pirates found an unforgettable way to end a 33-game losing streak against AP Top 25 teams, though it came with no fans to storm the court in celebration and only a limited number of attendees in Minges Coliseum due to the coronavirus pandemic.

DeJon Jarreau matched his career high with 25 points to lead the Cougars (15-2, 10-2), who had won nine straight meetings dating to 2015, including wins by double-digit margins on ECU’s home floor in each of the past four seasons. But top scorer Quentin Grimes struggled to just seven points on 2-for-10 shooting.

(10) ALABAMA 78, LSU 60: Jaden Shackelford scored 19 points and Alabama (15-4, 10-0 SEC) beat visiting LSU (11-5, 6-4), widening its lead in the Southeastern Conference standings.

The Crimson Tide held a six-point lead at halftime and opened the second half on an 11-2 run, and the Tigers could not catch up.

PITTSBURGH 83, (16) VIRGINIA TECH 72: Xavier Johnson scored a career-high 32 points and host Pittsburgh (9-5, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat Virginia Tech (13-4, 7-3) to end a three-game skid.

Johnson had been slumping, scoring a total of 26 points in the three losses, and was held out of Pitt’s starting lineup for the first time this season and second time in his three-year career. He shot 11 of 17 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range.

(18) MISSOURI 75, KENTUCKY 70: Dru Smith scored a season-high 26 points, Xavier Pinson added 14 and host Missouri (12-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) withstood a second-half charge to beat Kentucky (5-11, 4-5).

Smith also had seven rebounds and five assists to go along with 6-for-11 shooting. The senior also went 12 of 14 from the free-throw line, knocking down numerous key foul shots late to help the Tigers hold on.

SOUTH CAROLINA 72, (22) FLORIDA 66: AJ Lawson scored 22 points, Seventh Woods added 12 and visiting South Carolina (5-6, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) beat Florida (10-5, 6-4), potentially making the Gators’ return to the rankings a brief one.

Keyshawn Bryant added eight points for the Gamecocks, including six in a decisive 13-1 run over the final 6:37 to close the game. That spurt turned a six-point deficit into an unlikely road victory.

Florida was playing its first game as a ranked team in more than 14 months. The Gators snuck into the Top 25 after winning four in a row, including victories against No. 6 Tennessee and at No. 11 West Virginia.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

(3) UCONN 94, ST. JOHN’S 62: Paige Bueckers scored a season-high 32 points and host UConn (12-1, 10-0) beat St. John’s (5-10, 2-8) as the schools renewed their Big East rivalry.

The freshman hit 13 of 20 shots, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range, and topped 20 points for the third straight game. She also dished out seven assists.

Aaliyah Edwards added a season-high 22 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies, who have played the required 13 games needed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

St. John’s Leilani Correa fell two points shy of her career high, putting up 33 to lead the Red Storm.

(21) WEST VIRGINIA 65, IOWA STATE 56: Kysre Gondrezick scored 10 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter to help host West Virginia (14-2, 8-2 Big 12) pull away from Iowa State (11-7, 7-4) for its ninth straight win.

FOOTBALL

GEORGIA: Former South Carolina coach Will Muschamp has accepted an off-field position at Georgia, his alma mater, as an analyst on Kirby Smart’s staff.

Smart said Muschamp, also a former Florida head coach, will focus on defense. He played at Georgia as a defensive back from 1991-94 and is a former defensive coordinator at Auburn, Louisiana State and Texas.

Muschamp was fired by South Carolina midway through the 2020 season. The Gamecocks were 2-5 when the firing was announced on Nov. 15, leaving him 28-30 in his fifth season. Muschamp is 58-51 overall, including 28-21 at Florida from 2011-14.

Comments are not available on this story.