USC Beats LSU - Seals NCAA Tournament Bid

Dave Odom's University of South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the LSU Tigers in convincing fashion Friday afternoon in quarterfinal action of the SEC Tournament being held in Atlanta, Georgia ...

South Carolina played their way into the Big Dance - leaving no doubt in anyone's mind with a convincing 85-64 win over LSU in Atlanta.

Michael Boynton dropped in 18 points, and hit a career high 6 of 9 from beyond the arch to pace USC in the quarterfinal tilt.

The Gamecocks (23-9) will play visitor to Kentucky in a semifinals Saturday at 1:00 p.m. SC has lost to the Wildcats twice this season, and the last time they faced one another in the SEC tournament two years ago at the Georgia Dome.

Tarence Kinsey and Josh Gonner scored 14 each and helped the Gamecocks go 12-21 from the three point line for the game.

LSU was led by Antonio Hudson's 25 points, most coming early in the first half when Hudson connected on six straight shots before cooling down in the second.

The Gamecocks were already solid for an NCAA bid, but the win over LSU sealed the deal. The only questions now are seeding and where.

South Carolina is now 12-12 all time in tournament action since joining the SEC.

Carlos Powell paced USC in the rebound department with seven, and he added five assists to round out his game. Renaldo Balkman tossed in 11 points to help the Gamecocks' bench to dominance over the LSU bench by outscoring the Tiger pine riders 24-13.

LSU shot 53% from the field in the first half, but the Gamecocks held them to just 32% in the second. The Tigers were just 3 for 15 on 3-point attempts in the second half as the Gamecocks went zone to thwart LSU's efforts from beyond the arch - and it worked.

South Carolina, the leading defensive team in the SEC, improved to 16-1 when scoring 70 or more points. They have won the last two games with their pressure offense more than anything else - but they are playing balanced basketball heading into the semis. The Gamecocks trailed by 1 at the end of the first half, but had comeback from an early 15 point deficit to gain all of the momentum heading into the break before coming out and dominating the Tigers for the remainder of the game.

The Gamecocks are 4-0 against teams with Tigers for mascots this season. They face another Cat of sorts Saturday in Kentucky.

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