It's A New Years Eve Party As USC Trounces Wofford

USC finished the nonconference portion of the 2004-2005 schedule with a convincing 76-44 victory Thursday over the Wofford Terriers at the Colonial Center. USC jumped out to a quick double-digit lead and never trailed in the wire-to-wire victory. Josh Gonner shot his way out of his season-long slump by scoring 20 points to lead the Gamecocks. USC opens the SEC schedule with a road game at Kentucky Wednesday.

The buzz surrounding Thursday's South Carolina-Wofford basketball game was that the Terriers had the talent and the chutzpah to come to Columbia and pull off the upset over the Gamecocks.

Dave Odom was even quoted in the local paper as saying that several people (they were not identified, for good reason) had told him the Gamecocks had no chance against the upstart Terriers.

Just shows what those so-called experts know.

USC scored the first 10 points of the game and were never seriously threatened thereafter in trouncing Wofford, 76-44, before a New Years Eve crowd of 6,125 at the Colonial Center.

USC finished nonconference play with an 8-3 record. Wofford, off to its best start in 10 years, fell to 7-4.

Josh Gonner emerged from Dave Odom's doghouse to score a season high 20 points for USC. Gonner, trapped in a shooting slump for most of the season, hit 7-of-10 field goal attempts, including 3-for-5 from three-point range.

Carlos Powell added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Antoine Tisby had 10 points.

Wofford shooting guard Greg Taylor faced the Gamecocks for the first time after transferring from USC three seasons ago. He finished with five points.

After USC stormed out to a 39-15 halftime lead, the second half possessed little drama.

The Gamecocks increased the lead to 26 points (43-17) before the Terriers used a 7-0 run to knock the lead down to 19 (43-24) with 16:40 left.

But a driving layup by Kinsey and two free throws by Powell pushed the advantage back to 23 at 47-24, and the lead did not fall below 20 again until just 10:20 remained.

USC broke through the half-century barrier when Gonner hit two free throws with 14:08 left to make it 51-26.

Wofford had an 8-2 run to slice the lead to 19 (53-34) but USC again responded to the challenge. The Gamecocks scored 12 straight points to take a 65-34 lead heading into the third media timeout with 7:15 left.

Tisby backed his down and hit a jumper to make it 57-34. Gonner had a three-point play (jumper and free throw). Brandon Wallace had an offensive rebound basket.

Tarence Kinsey concluded the 12-0 run prior to the timeout by draining a long 3-pointer from the corner.

The scoring surge reached 16 straight points on a free throw by John Chappell, technical free throw by Stephen McDowell, and a baby hook by Chappell that drew loud applause.

The 16-0 run by USC gave the Gamecocks a 69-34 lead with 5:45 left and allowed the coaches to empty the benches.

USC got off to a quick start on both ends of the floor. Carlos Powell scored the first points of the game on a layup underneath.

Rocky Trice brought the crowd to its feet with a thunderous slam dunk off a missed shot. Kinsey added a pair of free throws for a 6-0 lead with 16:08 left.

Carlos Powell then hit a jumper from the baseline. USC led, 8-0, when the first media timeout was called with 14:55 left in the first half.

Wofford, which came into the game shooting 49.0% from the field as a team, struggled mightily on the offensive end from the opening tip. The Terriers missed their first 12 shots from the field and had only a pair of free throws on the scoreboard when the second media timeout was called with 11:36 left in the first half.

A pair of baskets by Josh Gonner gave USC a 14-2 lead with 11:15 left. Wofford finally recorded its first basket of the game on a reverse layup with 10:28 left.

The Terriers had little time to celebrate, though, as Trice drilled a 3-pointer from the wing and Tisby hit a driving layup for a 19-4 lead with 7:52 left.

After a 3-pointer by Watford's Greg Taylor, Tisby hit a short jumper from the corner. Gonner nailed a triple from the top to give USC a 24-9 lead with 6:01 left.

After a Wofford basket, USC scored six straight points to take a 30-11 lead with 3:34 left in the half. Tisby started the run with a free throw. Powell then scored on a driving layup from the baseline.

Gonner continued his hot shooting with 3-pointer from the top to make it 30-11 and force Wofford to call a much-needed timeout.

But the stoppage did little to stop the onslaught, as USC outscored Wofford 9-4 over the final 3:34 of the half to take a 39-15 lead into intermission.

Gonner hit his third 3-pointer of the half to make it 35-13. Kelley and Powell finished USC's first half scoring with medium range jumpers. Powell's basket came on a fallaway from the corner at the buzzer.

USC shot a sizzling 59.3% (16-for-27) in the first half, while Wofford was a woeful 20.8% (5-for-24). USC dominated the boards, outrebounding the Terrier, 21-10. WOF: 15-29=44

USC: 39-37=76

USC Leading Scorer: Josh Gonner, 20 points

WOF Leading Scorer: Sam Daniels, 13 points.

USC Leading Rebounder: Wallace, Powell, 9.

WOF Leading Rebounder: Howard Wilkerson, 7.

Halftime: USC 39-15.

Next Game: Wed. 1/5 at Kentucky, 8:00 p.m. Next Home Game: Sat. 1/8 v. Georgia, 8:00 p.m.

NOTES: USC's starting lineup - G Tre Kelley, G Rocky Trice, F Carlos Powell, F Tarence Kinsey, and C Brandon Wallace. . . USC is now 39-18 all-time against Wofford, 27-8 in Columbia. . .USC has won 20 in a row against the Terriers. . .Wofford's last win in the series came in 1938-39 season. . .The 24-point halftime lead (39-15) was the largest for USC in nearly three years. . .USC is 44-14 at home overall under Dave Odom and 32-2 against nonconference opponents. . .Wednesday's game was the final nonconference encounter of the 2004-2005 season for USC. SEC play opens Wednesday when USC travels to Lexington, KY to face the Wildcats at Rupp Arena. . .C-SET televised the contest. Lane Odom, son of USC's Dave Odom, and formerly an assistant coach at Missouri, served as color analyst. . .USC's strength of schedule is ranked No. 22 by . .USC was the fourth and final SEC opponent for Wofford this season. The Terriers have previously faced Tennessee (73-67 loss), Auburn (85-78 win), and Georgia (93-89 OT loss). All four games have been played on the road. . .Wofford came into Wednesday's game with a 7-3 record, its best start in 10 years. . .Wofford is a member of the Southern Conference.


USC HEAD COACH DAVE ODOM: "We certainly played very well early on defense and were very efficient on offense. The game was won on the defensive end of the court. We were very concerned with Howard Wilkerson and I thought Carlos Powell did a very, very good job on him. I thought we frustrated him. We took their low post game away and allowed our perimeter guys to stay on their men. We guarded their shooters very well."

"Offensively, we set a good tone early with Carlos taking the ball to Wilkerson. We got two fouls on him early. Carlos played quicker today."

"I am very surprised the game was won as handily as it was. Wofford is still a good team. They have proven to be a good basketball team but they weren't tonight. They just didn't have their game with them. Maybe we had something to do with that and I think we did."

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