South Carolina Needs Overtime To Beat SC State

South Carolina was involved in yet another close game Wednesday, as the Gamecocks needed overtime to put away the stubborn South Carolina State Bulldogs, 68-65, at the Colonial Center in Columbia. It was USC's third game in five days and the final game before the Christmas holiday break. Tarence Kinsey led USC with a career high 23 points, as the Gamecocks rallied from a seven-point deficit with eight minutes left to improve to 7-2 on the season.

For South Carolina basketball fans, the last 18 days have been a feast filled with some of the closest, most gut-wrenching hoop action seen in these parts in years.

Call it an early Christmas present for USC fans.

The Gamecocks continued their recent stretch of close, exciting, down-to-the-wire games by rallying from seven points down with just over eight minutes remaining to post a thrilling 68-65 overtime victory over the pesky South Carolina State Bulldogs Wednesday night before a boisterous crowd of 10,605 at the Colonial Center.

It was the fifth straight game for USC decided by four points or less, and the second to require overtime to decide the outcome. The last three home homes have been decided by a total of six points. USC is 2-1 in those games.

With the victory, USC improved to 7-2. SC State fell to 7-3.

Having played three games in the past five days, USC will take a well-earned four-day break for the Christmas holidays. The club will return to Columbia on Dec. 27 to prepare for its trip to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers.

Tarence Kinsey, who was on the floor for 43 of the game's 45 minutes, led USC with a career high 23 points. He was 4-of-7 from three-point range. Carlos Powell had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Tre Kelley added 15 points, including six in overtime when USC made 9-of-13 free throws.

After the teams finished regulation tied at 57-57, Kelley gave USC the lead for good in OT with a free throw with 4:38 left. After SC State missed an easy layup, Kelley made a layup for a 60-57 lead with 3:32 left.

Powell made two free throws with 2:42 left in OT to extend the lead to 62-57. Those would be USC's last points until less than 30 seconds remained.

SC State scored its first points of the extra session on a layup with 1:40 left.

Neither team scored again until Kelley made the first of two free throws with 27.7 seconds left to give USC a 64-59 lead. But, like Clemson and South Florida in previous games, the Bulldogs didn't quit down the stretch.

After the teams traded free throws, SC State hit a fastbreak layup to cut the USC lead to 65-62 with 8 seconds left. It appeared the game was over when Kelley made a free throw with 6.5 seconds left for a 67-62 USC advantage.

But SC State drilled a 3-pointer with less than two seconds left. Kinsey was fouled on the inbounds pass and made a free throw with one-half second left to wrap up the victory for the Gamecocks.

After a dreadful first half shooting the basketball, USC started hitting some shots early in the second half. USC, which trailed 27-26 at halftime, took the early second half lead with a layup by Wallace.

The clubs traded the lead for most of the opening 4-1/2 minutes of the second half. The biggest advantage held by either club was one point (28-27, 29-28, 30-29, 31-30, 32-31, 33-32, 34-33) when the first media timeout of the second half was called with 15:25 left.

Wallace had two baskets for USC during that stretch, while Kinsey and Trice had one each. Truce's short runner gave USC a 34-33 lead with 15:44 left.

Trice's putback of a Kinsey miss on a 3-point attempt gave USC its biggest lead of the game at 36-33.

After Powell hit a turnaround jumper from the corner, SC State scored four quick points to take a 39-38 lead. Kelley gave the lead back to USC with a 3-pointer from the wing, making it 41-39 with 12:15 left.

But a backdoor dunk and foul gave SC State a three-point play and a 42-41 lead with 11:57 left. The SCS lead reached four points (45-41) on an uncontested 3-pointer from the corner.

After another SC State basket, Odom had no choice but to call a timeout, as the SC State fans roared.

Powell ended SC State's 8-0 run with a lay-in after a block on the other end. But the cheers were short-lived as the Bulldogs drained a 3-pointer on the other end, making it 50-43 with 8:32 left.

But USC responded. Kinsey sparked a 12-0 USC run by hitting a 3-pointer just prior to the third media timeout of the second half to cut the SC State lead to 50-46. He then added a jumper to slice the lead to two. Most of the credit for the second basket should go to Balkman

Kinsey scored his third basket in a span of 2:31 by hitting a short jumper off glass to tie the score at 50-50. USC never trailed again in regulation after Trice gave USC the lead by picking up a loose ball at midcourt and driving for a layup with 5:12 left.

The white-hot Kinsey drilled a triple from the wing in front of the USC bench to give the Gamecocks their biggest lead of the game at 55-50 with 3:23 left.

After a driving layup by SC State, Kelley drove through the heart of the Bulldogs defense for a layup and a 57-52 lead.

But, as we have learned so far this season, nothing comes easy for these Gamecocks. The Bulldogs scored five straight points on a three-pointer and runner to knot the score at 57-57 with 1:11 left.

USC called timeout and set up for a shot. But Powell was stripped of the ball in the low post and SC State gained possession. The Bulldogs called a timeout with 15.2 seconds left and possession in the forecourt.

SC State attempted a runner in the lane with four seconds left. The shot bounced off the rim and Kelley rebounded. USC called timeout with 1.6 seconds left. Needing to go the full length of the court, USC opted for the safe route, inbounding the ball to Powell at three-quarters court. His heave was well off the mark and we headed to overtime.

SC State jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead on a putback basket and 3-pointer. Wallace scored USC's first point with a free throw with 18:07 left.

USC was 0-for-5 from the field, and trailed 5-1, when the first media timeout was called with 15:46 left.

Finally, after the Gamecocks had misfired on its first nine field goal attempts, Carlos Powell recorded USC's first basket of the game on an offensive rebound hoop with 14:30 left.

Things got uglier for the Gamecocks before they got better, as SC State extended its lead to 12-3 lead on a free throw and then a steal and layup with 12:55 left.

Trice took a pass underneath and scored an easy bucket to cut the Bulldogs lead to 12-5, the score when the second media timeout was whistled with 11:47 left.

A dunk by Wallace made it a 12-8 game with 10:59 left. USC had a chance to slice the lead even further but Tisby missed both free throws with 9:53 left.

SC State ended USC's 5-0 run with a free throw, as USC went nearly three minutes without scoring. Kinsey ended the drought with USC's first 3-pointer of the night from the corner, making it 13-11 with 8:01 left.

USC trailed, 13-11, when the third media timeout was called with 7:14 left.

After a Bulldogs basket, Kinsey stayed hot with a jumper from the wing. Carlos Powell was left alone underneath and scored to cut the lead to 17-15 with 5:18 left.

The Gamecocks moved to within a point (18-17) when Trice nailed two free throws with 4:29 left. USC was whistled for a loose ball foul in the offensive zone just before the fourth and final media timeout of the first half was called with 3:46 left.

USC claimed its first lead of the game (20-18) when Kelley made a layup in transition and was fouled.

SC State regained the lead with a little help from the officials. The refs awarded the Bulldogs the ball underneath the USC basket although replays showed the ball clearly went off a SC State player. The crowd let the officials know about its displeasure with the call with a loud chorus of boos.

The boos escalated to ear-popping levels when SC State drained a 3-pointer from the corner, giving SC State the lead back at 21-20. Visibly irate, Dave Odom chased down the officials and was called for a technical foul.

SC State made one of the two technical foul shots before adding an offensive rebound basket for a 24-20 lead.

Three free throws by USC cut the lead to one (24-23) but a three-point play by Thurman Zimmerman restored a four-point lead for SC State.

USC managed to take some momentum to the locker room when Kinsey swished a 3-pointer from the corner with nine seconds left. The trey gave SC State a 27-26 halftime lead.

The Gamecocks were fortunate to be trailing by only one point at intermissions after making only 30.8% of its shots in the first half (8-for-26).

SCS: 27-30-8=65

USC: 26-31-11=68

USC Leading Scorer: Tarence Kinsey, 23 points.

SCS Leading Scorer: Derrick Davis, 15 points.

USC Leading Rebounder: Carlos Powell, 11.

SCS Leading Rebounder: Thurman Zimmerman, 12.

Halftime: SC State 27-26.

Next Game: 12/29 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. Next Home Game: 12/31 v. Wofford, 6:00 p.m.

NOTES: USC's starting lineup - G Tre Kelley, G Rocky Trice, F Carlos Powell, F Tarence Kinsey, and C Brandon Wallace. . .USC now leads the all-time series, 13-0. All 13 games have been played in Columbia. . .This was the second game against SC State to go to overtime. . .USC is 43-14 at home overall and 31-2 against nonconference opponents under Dave Odom. . .Wednesday marked the first OT win for USC since 2/4/04 v. Alabama. . .Kinsey has led USC in scoring twice this season. . .Kinsey's 23 points and 16 shot attempts were the most by a USC player this season. . .USC shot 41.8% overall (23-for-55). USC was 17-for-27 from the FT line. . .USC didn't attempt a free throw in the second half but was 9-of-13 in OT. . .USC is 11-34 under Odom when trailing at the half. . .SC State was 18-11 overall last season. QUOTES:

USC HEAD COACH DAVE ODOM: "The bottom line is we won the game. We have seven wins and we have a lot to be thankful for. South Carolina State is much improved over last season. They are very well coached. They should be proud. They easily could have won this game. They fought hard. I have a lot of respect for those folks down in Orangeburg."

"We have played three games in five days. We are tired. SC State hasn't played since December 6th. You would have thought they would be a bit rusty but their mental toughness transcended that. We fought as hard. I think we learned a lot about ourselves."

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