SC Wins Free Throw Contest 72-48 over Furman

USC's Darrin Horn admits it was an ugly game, but another "W" looks good in the record book, as USC went to the free throw line a season-high 34 times, making 23 of them, to defeat the visiting Furman Paladins 72-48. Four players scored in double figures for a balanced scoring attack, but the key to the win was the tenacious Carolina defense. USC is now 6-1 under Horn.

How many times have you heard fans complain "It was the ref's fault?" Tonight, in a game that seemed to take forever, it probably was the ref's fault for how long the game took. There were a total of 46 fouls called. If you knew where to look, you didn't have far to look. SEC director of officials Gerald Boudreaux was sitting on press row, right where the refs calling the game could see him as they ran up and down the floor. Well, maybe walked. They did that a lot after blowing their whistles. Players from both teams could be seen craning their necks up at the scoreboard to see how much time was left, even though there are clocks just above the scoreboard. Perhaps they were hoping the scoreboard clocks were slow.

Not everything in the game went slow. When the refs did let them play, the South Carolina players keep their motors running at full-throttle in Darrin Horn's attacking defensive strategy, and will take a much needed 11 day break for exams before they play North Carolina Central inn Columbia on December 16. By the look on Dominique Archie's tired face after the game, finals make actually be a break.

It was a good thing the team was making their free throws. They only shot 36.7% from the field for the night, and 33.3% from 3 point range. They made Furman's night even more miserable though with their pressing defense, limiting the Paladins to 33.3% from the field for the game, and an even more abysmal 24% in the second half. The purple clad visitors from Greenville shot 18.8% from three point range for the night.

"This was a game that didn't seem to have a real flow to it, for various reasons," USC coach Darrin Horn said. "It was the first game I didn't feel like we came out and were ready to play on both ends of the floor."

Furman Coach Jeff Jackson said, "The way South Carolina plays with their constant pressure, you have to make your shots when you get open. We had those looks, but they just didn't go down."

Mike Holmes and Austin Steed found themselves crashing to the floor directly in front of the press row behind the basket on frequent occasions, but their physical play was a major reason for the win, according to Jackson: "Their size, their physicality; they wore us down. If you're up against a team that is a little more blessed physically then you are, you need to make the shots. We didn't."

Furman wasn't lacking in size – their front court of 6'10" 230 lb Alex Opacic, 6'9" 220 lb Brandon Sebirumbi and 6'8" 210 lb Noah States was just outplayed by Holmes, Dominique Archie, and Steed. Despite the poor shooting performance, the home-standing Gamecocks walked off the floor with a 24 point win. Furman kept it close for much of the first half, but after Horn pulled two of his starters, the team went on a late first half run and went up by ten at the half.

"You have to give credit to the lineup we had in there (Carter, Steed, Conrad, Baniulis, and Archie) where we went zone and they got us a couple of buckets and got a few stops for us," Horn said. "That helped us get that 10-point lead at halftime."

Four players scored in double-digits for South Carolina - Devan Downey went 10-for-11 from the free throw line and scored 19 points, five rebounds and had two assists and two steals to lead the team. Evka Baniulius contributed 12 points, Zam Fredrick scored 11 and Dominique Archie posted 10 points.

"I hope what it shows that what's important is that you play together, and you defend and you rebound," Horn said. "If you do those things, five guys working together, good things will happen."

The two teams had not met since December 4, 1999, a game that South Carolina also won, 75-68 at the old Carolina Coliseum. The Gamecocks have won the last 11 meetings in the series.

After losing their first game of the season to the College of Charleston last Friday, the Gamecocks have defeated their last two opponents by 26 and 24 points, their largest wins of the season. USC has won its last two games by a combined 50 points. Friday was the first of five straight home games for the Gamecocks.

Jordan Miller led the Paladins with 14 points and four steals.

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