USC Defeats Arkansas, Evens SEC Record at 4-4

Although the pace of the game was plodding at times, South Carolina did enough offensively and defensively to pull away for a 64-52 victory over Arkansas Wednesday night at the Colonial Center. The win evened USC's conference record at 4-4 as the number of days to the start of March Madness begin to dwindle down. Carlos Powell led USC with 14 points, while Tarence Kinsey scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and played a leading role in USC's strong defensive effort.

If NCAA Tournament berths were awarded purely on how well a team played at home, South Carolina would be a candidate for a No. 1 regional seed.

Unfortunately, as we know, they are not.

Therein lies the dilemma for the Gamecocks. While Wednesday's 64-52 victory over a young and outgunned Arkansas squad before a crowd of 10,010 at the Colonial Center was meaningful, as all wins are, it will be for naught as far as the selection committee is concerned unless the Gamecocks start winning games on the road.

With the victory, USC improved to 12-7 overall, 4-4 in the SEC. The Gamecocks are 11-1 at home, 0-6 on the road. Arkansas, which won 12 of 13 nonconference games, fell to 14-7 overall, 2-6 in the SEC.

The victory continued the win-one, lose-one rut the Gamecocks have been trapped in since late December, a span of 11 games. The Gamecocks have an excellent opportunity for its first winning streak in six weeks when it plays the undermanned Georgia Bulldogs Saturday in Athens, GA.

Carlos Powell led USC with 14 points, while Tarence Kinsey scored 12 points and tied his career high with 11 rebounds. Tre Kelley scored 10 points, all on free throws.

John Chappell, a surprise starter for USC, played a season high 19 minutes and scored one point on a late free throw.

Josh Gonner and Antoine Tisby, the two players currently in Dave Odom's doghouse, had little impact on the game. Gonner scored two points in three minutes of action late in the first half, while Tisby never got off the bench. Both players were off limits to the media after the game.

The difference in this one was a 19-4 run by USC over an 11-minute span bridging the first and second halves. The run, which started when USC held a 23-21 lead, gave the Gamecocks an insurmountable 42-25 lead with 11:08 left in the game.

USC's lead did not fall below 11 points the rest of the way.

After a methodical first half, USC used a late 6-0 run sparked in part by Gonner to assume a 29-21 lead at intermission.

USC scored six of the first eight points of the second half to take a commanding 35-23 lead with 18:37 left. Balkman started the run with a layup before feeding Powell on a give-and-go for another crowd-pleasing basket. After Kinsey nailed a jumper, the Razorbacks were forced to call timeout.

Kinsey added two free throws with 16:19 left to push the lead to 14 at 37-23. An Arkansas basket just as the shot clock buzzer went off made it a 37-25 game when the first media timeout of the second half was called with 15:22 left.

After Wallace blocked a shot on the perimeter, Rocky Trice drilled a 3-pointer from the wing. The junior college transfer then stepped up and buried a jumper from just inside the arc to expand USC's lead to 42-25 with 11:59 left.

With USC playing relentless defense, and Arkansas showing no ability or desire to run the basketball, the contest was all but over at that point. The Razorbacks scored four points in the opening 9:52 of the second half.

But Arkansas did show signs of a pulse by going on a 12-6 run to reduce the lead to 48-37 and throw a mild scare into the crowd.

But two free throws by Powell made it 50-37 heading into the third media timeout of the second half.

Wallace electrified the crowd when he took an inbounds pass and drove the lane for a two-handed dunk while being fouled. He made the free throw, giving USC a 53-39 lead with 5:47 left.

After that, for USC it was simply a matter of hitting its free throws. Ten of USC's final 12 points came from the free throw line. The Gamecocks made 18 of 26 free throws overall.

Both teams seemed content to slow down the tempo in the early going, patiently waiting for good shots.

Powell quickly scored the first two buckets of the game for USC, as the Gamecocks took a short-lived 4-3 lead. But behind a 3-pointer and layup, Arkansas led, 5-4, when the first media timeout was called with 15:37 left.

Balkman tapped home a Powell miss to give USC a 6-5 lead with 14:51 left. It was USC's first basket in a span of 4:00.

After Arkansas scored four straight points, Kinsey responded with a jumper from the wing, USC's first basket from beyond a foot, to cut the deficit to 9-8. There was no change in the score when the second media timeout was called with 11:36 left.

USC momentarily seized control after the timeout. The Gamecocks scored seven straight points on baskets by freshman Stephen McDowell (inbounds play), Brandon Wallace (spin move in lane), and Ricky Trice (3-pointer from the corner). The 7-0 run gave USC a 15-9 lead with 9:30 left.

Arkansas scored four straight points to move within two points at 15-13, but a pair of free throws by Kelley with 8:17 left restored USC's four-point edge. USC led, 17-13, when the third media timeout was called with 7:40 left.

Arkansas cut the USC to one (17-16) on a 3-pointer before Powell buried a jumper from a foul line. Kinsey gave USC a 21-17 lead with a long jumper from the wing.

The teams quickly traded baskets, with USC's bucket coming on a off-glass jumper by Powell, before a timeout was called with 2:36 left in the first half with USC leading, 23-19.

Gonner entered the game late in the first half and fed Powell for a layup. Moments later, he scored on a layup after a USC steal on the defensive end.

USC's late half flurry (6-0 run) continued when Kinsey drained a jumper from the corner. USC led, 29-21, at halftime, after shooting 54.2% (13-for-24) from the floor.

ARK: 21-31=52

USC: 29-35=64

USC Leading Scorer: Carlos Powell, 14 points.

ARK Leading Scorer: Ronnie Brewer, 20 points.

USC Leading Rebounder: Tarence Kinsey, 11.

ARK Leading Rebounder: Three with 5.

Halftime: USC 29-21.

Next Game: Sat. 2/5 at Georgia (4:00 p.m.) Next Home Game: Sat. 2/12 v. Auburn (7:30 p.m.)

NOTES: USC's starting lineup – F Carlos Powell, F Renaldo Balkman, C John Chappell, G Tre Kelley, G Tarence Kinsey. . . USC shot 46.8% (22-for-47) from the floor. . .USC outrebounded Arkansas, 38-36. . .While Arkansas leads the all-time series against USC, 10-6, the Gamecocks have won four the last five meetings. . .USC is 3-4 in Columbia against Arkansas. . .USC beat the Razorbacks 91-81 in the SEC Tournament last March. . .USC is now 57-11 under Odom when it leads at the half. . .USC had three players averaging in double figures coming into Wednesday's game: Carlos Powell (15.3 PPG), Tre Kelley (10.3 PPG), and Tarence Kinsey (10.1 PPG). Powell also leads the Gamecocks in rebounding (6.5 RPG). He is 9th in the SEC in scoring. .In SEC games only, USC is ranked second in the conference in FG Pct (50.1%) and 3-point FG Pct. (38.4%), and third in blocked shots (4.0 BPG). . .Wednesday's game was aired by ETV Sports on a tape-delayed basis. It will air at 11:00 p.m. In addition, the game was broadcast throughout the world on the Armed Forces Network. . .Arkansas lost a 68-67 heartbreaker to Kentucky in its last outing. . .Beginning with Wednesday's game, Arkansas plays four of its next six games on the road.

QUOTES:

USC HEAD COACH DAVE ODOM: "It was a timely win. Very workmanlike. It was not an exciting game to watch but it was exactly the type of game we needed to play. We didn't press much because I thought that would play right into their hands. We played the way we thought would give our team the best chance to win. I feel good about the way we played."

"The turning point came late in the first half when we scored those six points. Then we dominated the beginning of the second half. I give Tarence Kinsey a lot of credit. He faced one of the best players in the league in Ronnie Brewer and he played well."

"Arkansas may be the best young team in the league. They didn't play well tonight. I would like to think we had a little something to do with that."

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