South Carolina's 60-46 victory over Temple University Saturday is one of those key wins that could prove to be more meaningful in March than in November.
The victory, USC's second over the Owls in three years at the Colonial Center, occurred before an enthusiastic crowd of 7,892, and kept the Gamecocks unbeaten at 3-0. Temple fell to 1-2.
Carlos Powell, a senior from Florence, may have played his best game in a USC uniform, scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Powell was active on both ends of the floor. He made nine of 13 field goal attempts, and had seven of USC's 18 offensive rebounds.
Tre Kelley scored 11 points, while Renaldo Balkman added 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
Two statistics tell the story. USC obliterated Temple on the boards, outrebounding the Owls by more than a 2-to-1 margin (52-23). USC also limited Temple to 31.7% shooting (19-for-60), including only 3-for-23 (13.0%) from beyond the arc.
The victory will surely prove beneficial come March when the NCAA Tournament selection committee meets in Kansas City to determine, and seed, the 64-team field for the Big Dance.
USC's strong rebounding and defense overwhelmed any concerns the Gamecocks may have had entering the game about generating offense against Temple's infamous zone defense.
USC scored the first five points of the game and never trailed in the wire-to-wire victory. After taking a 12-point halftime lead (34-22), USC managed to maintain its double-digit advantage until less than 11 minutes remained in the game.
Tarence Kinsey's 3-pointer gave USC a 15-point cushion (41-26) with 15 minutes left.
But some sloppy play and poor free throw shooting by USC allowed Temple to hang around. USC led, 43-32, when the second media timeout was called with 11:32 left in the game.
Temple finally got the Gamecocks' lead into single digits at 43-34 and had an opportunity to reduce the advantage even further but failed to do so.
Kelley gave USC some breathing room with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 46-34 with 9:46 left.
A Temple jumper from the corner cut the lead to eight (46-38). But a 9-2 run pulled the Gamecocks out of danger.
Stephen McDowell missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 6:50 left, but Powell outfought a couple of Temple players for the rebound, which led moments later to a Brandon Wallace jumper that gave USC a 10-point lead (48-38) with 6:34 left.
McDowell, a fearless freshman from Indianapolis by way of the IMG Basketball Academy in Florida, made his presence felt when he drilled one of the biggest shots of the game, a big 3-pointer from the top with 5:34 left. Powell then had follow-up basket and two free throws, giving USC a 55-40 lead with 3:58 left.
Temple scored a couple of baskets to slice the lead to 11 (55-44) with 2:26 left before USC erased all doubts with a 5-0 run. Temple did not score again until 10 seconds remained.
The first half was certainly USC's finest this season. The Gamecocks dominated the Owls in all areas, including points (34-22), shooting (50.0% v. 29.6%) and rebounding (27-10).
USC knew coming in it had to hit some outside shots to beat the Owls. The Gamecocks did that and more in the first half.
After missing its first two shots of the game, USC got on the scoreboard when Kinsey hit a 3-pointer. Carlos Powell hit a jumper in the lane on USC's next possession to give the Gamecocks a 5-0 lead.
USC limited Temple to a single basket, a 3-pointer, by the time the first media timeout was called with 15:36 left.
USC caught a break when Keith Butler, Temple's 7-foot-1 center, was whistled for two quick fouls in the opening minutes and had to take a seat on the bench.
Powell had nine of USC's points during an 11-4 run that pushed the Gamecocks lead to 16-7 with 10:55 left in the first half. Temple committed three turnovers during the surge.
Powell first hit a baby hook in the lane before hitting a free throw and layup (nice pass from Tisby) to give USC a 10-3 lead with 14:23 left.
Powell sandwiched a pair of offensive rebound baskets around a dunk by Balkman to make it 16-7 heading into the second media timeout. Powell's latter basket gave him 11 points in the first 8-1/2 minutes of the game.
USC's lead reached 13 (20-7) when Balkman had a dunk from the baseline and Wallace swished a jumper from the corner.
Temple went on an 8-3 run to climb to within eight (23-15) with 6:24 left, but Powell gave USC some breathing room with a 3-pointer from the corner.
After Temple hit a 3-pointer, USC went on an 8-0 run for its biggest lead of the half (34-18) with 43 seconds left. Tre Kelley started the spurt with a 3-pointer from the top. Balkman, who had several key rebounds during the surge, contributed an offensive rebound basket to make it 31-18.
Powell drove baseline for a basket before Tisby completed USC's first-half scoring with a free throw with 44.8 seconds left. Temple scored the final four points of the half.
USC Leading Scorer: Carlos Powell, 22 points.
TEM Leading Scorer: Mark Tyndale, 12 points
USC Leading Rebounder: Carlos Powell, 13.
TEM Leading Rebounder: Two with 4.
Halftime: USC 34-22.
Next Game: Wed. 12/1 v. Appalachian State, 7:00 p.m.
NOTES: USC's starting lineup was G Tre Kelley, G Josh Gonner, F Carlos Powell, F Tarence Kinsey, and C Brandon Wallace. . .USC now leads the all-time series against Temple, 8-5. . .USC is 5-1 v. Temple in Columbia. . .Temple won last season's meeting in Philadelphia, 71-61. USC will return to the City of Brotherly Love next season. . .USC is 19-0 at the Colonial Center and 28-1 at home overall under Dave Odom in nonconference play. . .USC has won 25 consecutive nonconference games at home. . .The last nonconference loss at home came on 12/6/01 against Georgetown. . .Speaking of the Hoyas, Temple trounced Georgetown, 78-57, Monday night for its only win of the season. . .The 22 points and 13 rebounds were the second highest of Carlos Powell's career in both areas. He had 23 points at Clemson last season. . .Powell has scored in double figures in 17 straight nonconference games. . .Powell had led USC in scoring in all three games this season. . .The 13 rebounds by Powell was the first double figure rebounding game for a USC player this season. . .Seven of the nine USC players who saw action scored. . .USC is allowing only 53.0 PPG through the first three games. . .Under Dave Odom, USC has allowed less than 50 points on 18 occasions. USC is 17-1 in those games. . .USC hosts Appalachian State Wednesday night (12/1) before the Clemson Tigers come to the Colonial Center next Saturday for a 7:30 tipoff.
USC HEAD COACH DAVE ODOM: "Certainly a key win for us. Very, very good win. I'm very proud of our team. We have a lot of work to do in a lot of areas but that was absolutely a quality win. You can never say enough good things about your team when they give it their all and things turn out the way they did today. You can rave about a lot of things. The key stat of the game was the rebounding total. We were able to run down long rebounds and we ran down some loose balls. That was the key to the game."
"It wasn't a clean ending. We threw inbounds passes that were intercepted. We threw outlet passes that were intercepted. They turned into baskets at the other end. But playing a team like Temple, you have to thankful for the win."
"Carlos (Powell) had his third good game in a row. I'm very proud of him with his 13 rebounds. Tre (Kelley) gave us some good minutes for the most part. Stephen McDowell is a small and gutsy kid. He made the three when he needed it."
"It was return to what we were accustomed to last season and a sign of things to come. Antoine Tisby gave us 22 quality minutes. He's starting to feel comfortable. He gave us a presence inside."
TEMPLE HEAD COACH JOHN CHENEY: "We had the wrong guys running the break. We stayed within our turnover margin. South Carolina had 18 turnovers but we just couldn't take advantage. We shot more shots than they did, but they were bad shots and individual shots."
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