South Carolina 68, Winthrop 54
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)—Guard Rocky Trice scored 13 of his career-high 18 points in a near-perfect first half as South Carolina defeated Winthrop 68-54 Wednesday night before an announced crowd of 7,053 at the Colonial Center.
Trice missed just one shot in the first half, hitting his first four field goals—including two of his career-best three 3-pointers on the night—along with three straight free throws after being fouled behind the 3-point arc.
Trice’s second 3-pointer gave South Carolina (6-2) a 25-13 lead with 6:16 left, the Gamecocks’ biggest lead of the first half. The 3-pointer also allowed the senior to eclipse his career high of 12 set 11 days earlier against Clemson in South Carolina’s last game before a break for final exams.
After South Carolina went up by 12, Winthrop (4-2) closed within 27-22 with 3:55 left on back-to-back 3-pointers by Michael Jenkins and a three-point play by James Shuler. But the Gamecocks outscored the Eagles 8-2—Tarence Kinsey hit two straight buckets—to take a 35-24 lead at halftime.
The game was South Carolina’s first since an 82-63 loss at Clemson on Dec. 3.
“I don’t know when the last time was we prepared that long and that hard for one game,” South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. “We had exam week academically, but we also had exam week basketball-wise. We called our players out and they answered the call tonight. We certainly understand that we beat a very good team that did not play their best game.”
South Carolina hit 56 percent of its shots while Winthrop made just 28 percent. For the game, the Gamecocks shot 55.3 percent while the Eagles shot a season-worst 33.3 percent while being held to a season-low in points.
The Gamecocks outscored the Eagles 9-5 to start the second half and push their lead to 44-29 on a fastbreak layup by Renaldo Balkman as Winthrop hit just one of its first five shots to continue its shooting woes.
The Eagles never got closer than 11 after that while South Carolina stretched its lead to 64-45 with 4:56 left on back-to-back 3-pointers by Tre Kelley and Trice.
Winthrop was led by Craig Bradshaw, who tied his career high with 19 points and his season high with eight rebounds. Kinsey added 16 points and Balkman 12 for the Gamecocks.
Winthrop, which lost 60-57 at Alabama on Dec. 3 in its last game, is now 0-5 against USC and 1-15 against Southeastern Conference foes.
“They were just in another gear tonight,” Winthrop coach Gregg Marshall said. “The shots they didn’t block they altered. We could never get much of a rhythm. We were hesitant.”