PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico - The South Carolina men's basketball team (5-1) claimed the 2012 Hoops For Hope Classic Championship on Sunday night in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with a 74-62 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock (4-3). Senior forward Lakeem Jackson collected his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Jackson was named to the all-tournament team and senior guard LaShay Page was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Junior guard Brenton Williams led the five Gamecocks who scored double figures in the championship game with 17. Page added 16, freshman forward Mindaugas Kacinas tallied 13 and junior guard Eric Smith posted 12 in the balanced effort. Jackson's 15 rebounds were a game high.
Junior forward Will Neighbour led the ULAR charge with 19 points and five rebounds. Freshman guard John Gillon netted nine points for the Trojans.
South Carolina jumped out to a 12-4 lead through the first six minutes of play, but UALR responded with a 7-2 run through the under-12 minute media timeout to pull within three at 14-11.
Page scored six points after the break and Smith extended the Gamecocks lead to nine at 23-14 with 8:53 on the clock on a made 3 at the shot clock buzzer.
Neighbour would add a lay-up for the Trojans, but a basket from Jackson and two from Williams gave Carolina a solid advantage at 31-16 with just over four minutes remaining before the half.
South Carolina continued to dominate on the offensive end the remainder of the set. Page hit his second 3 of the contest with just over a minute to play, and Kacinas buried a 3 just before the halftime buzzer to push the Gamecock advantage to 39-22. Carolina held a dominating 25-8 rebounding advantage in the half, scoring 13 second chance points.
The Gamecocks picked up where they left off before the break in the second half. Carolina held a 55-28 lead after back-to-back buckets from Williams midway through the half.
Page collected an assist on a floating pass to Kacinas just under nine minutes for a 25-point Carolina lead at 59-34.
Jackson collected his second double-double of the season with his 10th point on a breakaway dunk near the six-minute mark, and the Gamecocks closed out the contest with a 74-62 victory.
South Carolina travels to face St. John's on Thursday in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge from Queens, N.Y. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, with the game televised on ESPNU.