Second Half Run Keys USC Victory, 82-71

Trying to build on the exciting win over Florida, the Gamecocks (14-4, 3-2 SEC) hosted struggling Ole Miss (10-9, 1-4 SEC) Saturday night. After a first half that probably had Dr. James Naismith spinning in his grave, Carolina opened the second half with a 23-5 run and never looked back, winning 82-71.

"Obviously our run to start the second half was the key to the game," said Darrin Horn. "It was fueled by our defense and we were able to create some offense off the turnovers and got ourselves a cushion."

The less said about the first half, the better. South Carolina came out flat, and struggled to get anything going. The Gamecocks shot 37.1% from the floor, 36.4% from three, and a whopping 43.8% from the free throw line. They had three assists and five turnovers.

Ole Miss did nothing to capitalize on Carolina's struggles, and never led by more than four points. At the end of the half, with Ole Miss up one, Devan Downey nailed a long three-pointer to give the Gamecocks the lead going into the locker room, and more importantly, provide a spark.

"We felt like there was a chance that, if we didn't get the big run, we could gradually wear them down," said Horn. "It felt like maybe they were getting a little tired and they made a couple of really tough shots in the first half that maybe wouldn't go down in the second."

The second half was entirely different. The Gamecocks quickly scored 11 unanswered points. Rebel coach Andy Kennedy tried desperately to slow down Carolina, calling a timeout at the 17:58 mark. When that did nothing, he called another 52 seconds later, which was equally ineffective. All told, the Gamecocks went on a 23-5 run.

"We have four or five minute stretches where the game gets away from us," said Kennedy. "At the start of the second half, we had some open shots, and you've got to make open shots. We did a poor job in our decision-making."

In the second half, Carolina shot 55.9% . The free throw shooting did not improve, however. The Gamecocks shot just 11-28 (39.3%) for the game, but Horn is not worried.

"We've had so many games where we have shot really well and it's been a big difference for us," he said. "It's not something that we're going to get too concerned about."

Freshman Murphy Holloway, an Irmo native, made his return to the Palmetto State Saturday. He started for Ole Miss, but had mixed results in his return. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds and had a nice reverse dunk in the second half, but he was hampered by foul trouble and fouled out with just less than five minutes to play.

David Huertas led Ole Miss with a game-high 25 points. The Rebels finished the game shooting 41.4% and made just 3-17 from behind the arc.

The Gamecocks were led by Downey's 22 points and a balanced effort from Dominique Archie (12 points), Mike Holmes (9 points and 10 rebounds), Sam Muldrow (9 points), Zam Fredrick (9 points), and Evka Baniulis (8 points).


- Perhaps inspired by the stellar play in the first half, the scorekeepers had an equally strong moment. At halftime, the stat sheet listed stats for three Ole Miss players who were not even in the state of South Carolina. All three players were injured and did not make the trip, but that did not stop them from racking up four points and a negative rebound, negative assist, and negative block.

- The scoreboard did not offer much help for the confused. Several times the officials had to stop play to correct the shot clock, and player stats on the scoreboard were not updated for more than 10 minutes in the second half.

- The Gamecocks are over .500 in SEC play for the first time since Feb 5, 2005, when they were 5-4 following a win at Georgia.

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