Gamecocks 55, Rebs 49

South Carolina opened their SEC schedule tonight in the new Carolina Center with their first SEC victory in the new facility. Carlos Powell and Michael Boyton led the charge. Tony Kitchings returned in good form. Ro Howell suffered a blunt head trauma ...

Carlos Powell came on strong in the second half downing 13 of 15 as the Gamecocks overcame a very slow start en route to notching their first SEC win in the Carolina Center with a 55-49 victory tonight.

The Gamecocks (7-4) are undefeated in their new home although that was in doubt after a sluggish start that saw USC score only two field goals while turning the ball over eight times in the first period.

It was only the second time in six years that South Carolina won its Southeastern Conference opener.

Tony Kitchings, returning for the first time since November after fracturing his hand and having surgery, pulled down four rebounds and tossed in 11 points. Michael Boynton likes his new 2-guard position. Boyton hit three treys from beyond the arch in the second half to ignite the Gamecocks to the win and finish with 13 points.

Both teams were horrible in the first half with USC hitting only 27.8 percent of their shots and the Rebs hitting only 26.1 percent of theirs.

It was South Carolina's lowest first half point total in an SEC game breaking the low of 17 scored against the Kentucky Wildcats on Feb. 13, 1999.

The Rebels also helped the Gamecocks break an opponents' low mark which had previously been held by Tennessee who hit only 17 on Jan. 8, 1997.

But the night was not all grins and giggles as yet another Gamecock suffered an inury. Rolando Howell, was kicked in the head in the first half by Ole Miss' Justin Reed. USC's Sports Information department said doctors evaluated Howell for blunt head trauma after the game and an update will be released on Thursday with regard to Howell's condition. Ro did not play in the second half as a safety precaution.

Post-Game Coaches Quotes, South Carolina vs. Ole Miss, 1/8/03, Columbia, SC

Dave Odom, South Carolina - "It certainly was a game for the ages. I thought key from my perspective, we didn't allow ourselves to lose the game in the first 15 minutes. Sure, Michael Boynton hit some 3s, so did Carlos Powell and Kerbrell Brown hit the big one at the end. But, I thought it was our defense in the first half that gave us a chance to win in the second half. It was a big win for us and we did it despite some adversity. Rolando Howell took a blow to the head in the first half - it was either a foot or hit the floor. At halftime, the doctors did not feel like he was stable enough to play in the second half. But, I thought our team looked straight ahead and played it out without looking around for him. He will get a full examination on Thursday. I want to be candid here. I'm not mad at anybody, but we've got to change the way our fans respond during the game. They need to realize that it's okay to stand up, sweat and get excited. It's okay for them to do that. With 3-4 seconds to go, we're going to win the game and I think they think we are going to lose it. We need the fans to give some and get into the game ... Tony Kitchings played well for his first time back. He was a factor in the game. He gave us an inside presence. I thought his defense was every bit as good as his offense. I was also pleased with Carlos Powell's post defense. It was much better than it's been."

Rod Barnes, Ole Miss - "South Carolina did a great job in preparing for tonight's basketball game. It was hard-fought. Both teams were off for a while and that showed a little in the first half. They made the plays they needed to make to win the basketball game. We were not able to score as we need, to win on the road. There were two areas we had problems with. We didn't shoot the ball and part of that was because we took too many three-point shots, especially early. We also turned the ball over too much. Give South Carolina credit, they are a good basketball team. They played zone and that slowed us down.

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