SC Crushes Bama In Overtime!

The South Carolina Gamecocks once again illustrated their will to win and character in overcoming a late barrage by the Alabama Crimson Tide to win a thrilling ovetime contest in the Colonial Center ...

Life was good for South Carolina.

Then it began raining Alabama threes.

Fortunately for the Gamecocks, the rain subsided enough for USC to find shelter, otherwise known as overtime.

USC took care of the rest, dominating the extra session to pull out a much-needed 90-82 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide before 16,227 Wednesday at the Colonial Center.

USC improved to 19-3 overall, 6-2 in the SEC. The victory gave the Gamecocks a one-half game lead over Kentucky heading into Saturday's showdown for first place in Lexington.

Alabama fell to 11-8 overall, 3-5 in the SEC.

Josh Gonner led five USC scorers in double figures with 22 points. Kerbrell Brown had 16 points and seven rebounds. Carlos Powell scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds.

An eye-popping display of long-range shooting by Alabama in the second half allowed the Crimson Tide to overcome a 15-point deficit with 12 minutes left and force OT.

Alabama made 8-of-10 3-pointers over a span of 9:29 (11:54 left to 2:25 left). The baskets sparked an improbable 28-10 Tide run that gave the visitors a three-point lead with 2:25 left.

USC recovered nicely, outscoring Alabama, 19-11, in OT. The Tide didn't score in the extra session until 1:09 remained. By then USC had built an insurmountable 12-point lead (83-71).

Alabama never recovered after missing a free throw and being whistled for two offensive fouls on its first three possessions in overtime.

Michael Boynton (12 points, 4-for-7 on 3PFG) got USC going in the OT with a 3-pointer, his fourth triple of the game. Kerbrell Brown followed up his key 3-pointer late in regulation, with a jumper that made it 76-71 with 2:55 left.

After a spin move by Powell and a 3-pointer by Brown gave USC an 81-71 lead, Alabama was called for its third offensive foul. Two free throws by Gonner made it 83-71 with 1:14 left.

Alabama got to within eight (83-75) with 56 seconds left, but USC held off the Tide by making 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute. Gonner was 5-for-6.

USC appeared on its way to an easy victory when a dunk by Rolando Howell gave USC a 58-43 lead with 12:18 left. However, the Tide found its shooting groove to throw a major scare into the Gamecocks.

After closing the first half with the 12-0 run, USC continued its hot shooting early in the second half when, after Brown grabbed an offensive rebound, Boynton connected on his third 3-pointer of the game to give USC a double-digit lead for the first time (42-32).

Two long jumpers by Gonner, one a 3-pointer, gave USC a 47-34 lead with 16:42 left. A triple by the Crimson Tide cut the lead to 10.

After a USC timeout (Rolando Howell won the battle for a loose ball and smartly signaled timeout after gaining possession) with 16:00 left, Gonner hit his third consecutive basket for a 49-37 lead. That was the score heading into the first media timeout of the second half with 15:23 left.

Tarence Kinsey, who has struggled lately with his shot, took over from there, scoring three straight baskets (3-pointer, layup on a 3-on-2 break after an Alabama turnover, and driving layup in the half-court set).

Rolando Howell brought the crowd to its feet by slamming home a miss by Balkman to give USC its biggest lead at 58-43, forcing Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried to call his second timeout within a 1:36 span.

The stoppage did wonders for the Tide, who looked like an entirely different team after that. Alabama had a 10-2 run after the timeout to cut the lead to seven (60-53). It was now USC's turn to call timeout with 7:06 left.

Powell stopped the bleeding momentarily with a spinning baby hook in the lane, but the Tide cut deeper into the lead with two 3-pointers to make it 62-59 with 5:52 left.

Balkman's basket and free throw gave USC a 6-point lead (65-59). But two Alabama 3-pointers within 44 seconds tied the score for the first time since 32-32.

Alabama took the lead on another 3-pointer. Gonner hit a long triple from the concourse to tie the score at 68-68 with 2:52 left.

The final Alabama trey of the game came with 2:25 left, and gave the Tide a 71-68 lead.

Neither team scored again until 21 seconds remained. Boynton kicked the ball back to Brown, who nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to tie the score at 71-71 and send the crowd into a frenzy.

Alabama called timeout to set up the final shot. The Tide had a couple of shots from close range rim out. Powell grabbed the rebound and fed to Boynton, whose half-court shot caromed off the backboard.

Alabama led most of the first half before a late 12-0 run propelled USC into a 39-32 halftime lead.

Boynton got USC rolling with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Alabama scored the next four points before Balkman snatched an offensive rebound away from an Alabama player and scored to give the Gamecocks a 5-4 lead going into the first media timeout with 15:39 left.

Alabama scored four quick points after the timeout (3-pointer and driving layup along the baseline) for a 9-5 lead. Baskets by Balkman (low post) and Powell (baseline) tied the score at 9-9 with 14:20 left.

Two free throws by Gonner tied the score at 11-11. Alabama's third 3-pointer of the half and another basket gave the Crimson Tide a 16-11 lead with 12:32 left.

Freshman Tre Kelley, who came in shooting only 15.6% from 3-point range (5-for-32) drained a shot from beyond the arc to cut the lead to two (16-14). However, another 3-pointer by the Crimson Tide and a defensive goaltending call on USC gave Alabama a 21-14 lead.

Balkman worked the baseline to perfection for a layup, but that basket was offset by Alabama's 5th triple of the half. The trey gave the Tide its biggest lead of the half at 24-16.

Three-pointers by Gonner (top of the key) and Powell (corner) cut Alabama's lead to 26-22 with 6:56 left. Alabama led, 28-22, at the third media timeout with 6:29 left.

Boynton cut Alabama's lead in half with a 3-pointer from the top. A basket and two free throws by the Crimson Tide sandwiched around a jumper by Brown made it 32-27 heading into the final media timeout with 3:57 left.

After the timeout, the momentum swung entirely to USC, as the Gamecocks closed out the first half with a 12-0 run. Brown jumpstarted the surge with a 3-pointer from the corner. USC tied the score at 32-32 (first tie since 11-11) on a basket by Balkman, who was rewarded for going strong to the basket.

The run continued when Carlos Powell had a breakaway dunk after a wild scramble for the ball near midcourt. Brown nailed another 3-pointer to push the lead to 37-32 with 1:44 left.

Kelley completed the first half scoring with a fastbreak layup with 33 seconds left.

After starting hot, Alabama missed its last five shots to finish at 50.0% (11-for-22). USC made 60.0% of its shots in the first half (15-for-25), including 7-for-13 from beyond the 3-point arc.

NOTES: USC's starters were Boynton, Gonner, Powell, Brown, and Balkman. . .Current SEC East Standings: USC 6-2, Kentucky 5-2, Florida 4-4, Vanderbilt 3-4, Tennessee 3-5, Georgia 3-5. . .The 90 points were a season high for USC. The Gamecocks also had season highs in 3-point field goals (14). . .USC shot 56.1% (32-for-57). Alabama was 46.7% (28-for-60). . .Alabama had the most points by a USC opponent this season. . .The two teams were a combined 30-for-56 from beyond the arc. . .Alabama tied the school record for most 3-pointers (16) in a game. . .USC is 13-0 under Dave Odom when it scores 80+ points. . .USC is No. 25 in this week's AP Poll and No. 24 in the ESPN Coaches Poll. . .USC was ranked No. 22 in the Sagarin Ratings as of 2/3. . .Rolando Howell was 0-for-1 from the free throw line and is now 24-of-29 from the line this season. . .Alabama leads the all-time series 17-9. . .USC snapped a 4-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide. . .USC came into Wednesday's game ranked No. 1 in six SEC categories: scoring defense (57.2), field goal pct. defense (36.1%), 3-point goal pct. defense (24.3%), blocked shots (5.9 BPG), steals (10.2 SPG), and turnover margin (+5.4 per game). Nationally, USC is still No. 1 in field goal percentage defense.

QUOTES:

USC HEAD COACH DAVE ODOM: "As far as the game is concerned, the key play was Kerbrell Brown making the 3 at the end of regulation. I came close to calling a timeout but I thought the play was far enough on. Michael Boynton made a great drive and pitched it back to Kerbrell. That was followed by the defensive possession of the game. It was about the only time we defended all night. We locked up pretty well. That was essentially the game in those 2 possessions."

"We made some mistakes in overtime that made the game go longer than it should have. I thought it was a gutsy win for our guys over a team that desperately needed a win. I give a lot of credit to Alabama and Coach Gottfried. It was an unbelievable shooting display by both teams.

"I thought we started tentatively. The only guy who had any emotion was Renaldo Balkman. We stayed in the game becaue of what he did. He did what he had to do to keep us in the game. That gave us an opportunity to come back and gain the lead at halftime. It was a great win for us and a tough loss for Alabama."

ALABAMA HEAD COACH MARK GOTTFRIED: "You have to give South Carolina credit. They made some big shots. Kerbrell Brown hit the big one. Our guys played with passion and emotion. We just came up a couple of plays shot. We had the opportunity to go up by five but came away empty."

ALA: 32-39-11 = 82
USC: 39-32-19 = 90

USC Top Scorer: Josh Gonner, 22 points.
ALA Top Scorer: Ernest Shelton, 23 points.
USC Top Rebounder: Balkman, 8.
ALA Top Rebounder: Winston, 7.
Halftime: USC, 39-32.

Next Game: Sat. 2/7 at Kentucky, 1:00 p.m.
Next Home Game: 2/11 v. Miss. State, 7:30 p.m.

SEC SCORES – Wednesday, February 4th
Georgia 64, Ole Miss 51
LSU 84, Tennessee 67
Arkansas 74, Auburn 52

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