COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)—Freshman Sam Young scored a career-high 16 points to keep Pittsburgh undefeated with a 58-51 victory over South Carolina on Wednesday night.
Young’s play saved the Panthers (10-0) from an overall sluggish performance as they shot less than 40 percent for the game and finished 19 points below their season’s scoring average. Still, Pitt matched its start from last season and kept on the trail of the school’s 18-0 start from 2003-04.
Keith Benjamin’s jumper put Pitt ahead 24-22 early in the second half—the team’s first lead since 2-0—and then Young extended the margin with his three-point play.
Three minutes later, Young hit a 3-pointer as teammate—and Panthers’ top scorer—Carl Krauser raised his arms along with the referees as the shot went through.
Young followed with four straight free throws and Pittsburgh led 38-29.
The Gamecocks eventually cut things to 49-45 with less than three minutes left and forced Pitt guard Ronald Ramon into a long, off-balance three-point try with the shot clock near zero. But Young cut across the lane from the right corner to collect the long rebound.
Krauser would eventually end the possession with a driving layup to maintain control for the Panthers.
South Carolina retired the No. 3 jersey of all-time scoring leader BJ McKie before the tip-off.
The Gamecocks (7-4) could’ve used the savvy and steadiness McKie showed during his four seasons from 1996-99. South Carolina squandered several chances to tighten the game near the end.
When Krauser hit both ends of a one-and-one to put Pitt ahead 53-47 with 51 seconds to go, Rocky Trice missed an inside shot as he got followed on the Gamecocks next possession.
Then Trice missed one of his two foul shots.
Pittsburgh closed things out at the foul line, making 11 of its final 12 attempts.
Krauser added 15 points, 11 in the second half, and Aaron Gray had 13 rebounds. Young also had seven rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Tre Kelley led the Gamecocks with 18 points while Antoine Tisby had 12 points. One of the most glaring weaknesses for South Carolina was on the boards where Pittsburgh held a 38-22 advantage.