South Carolina used a 20-0 run to get and stay ahead of SC Upstate in a 65-52 season-opening win Tuesday at Colonial Life Arena.
The Gamecocks, featuring reigning SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Chris Silva and nine newcomers, struggled to play consistently on each end of the floor. Upstate, playing without star Deion Holmes, didn't score for over 10 minutes in the first half as a quick 9-2 lead vanished.
South Carolina freshman Keyshawn Bryant had a fabulous debut with a game-high 21 points, the first two coming on a soaring one-handed dunk that ignited the home crowd. The Gamecocks used the energy and the Spartans' lengthy scoreless drought to take a lead they wouldn't lose.
Upstate was led by 16 points from Malik Moore and 13 from Everette Hammond.
South Carolina got 13 points from Silva, with 11 boards. Guard Hassani Gravett had 12 rebounds.
The Gamecocks were 0 of 18 from the 3-point line and missed 10 of 37 free throws. The teams combined for 41 turnovers.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks only dressed nine players due to injury and other matters, and survived after losing their exhibition game to Division II Augusta. They at least showed they can handle adversity.
USC Upstate: First-year coach Dave Dickerson found out how hard it may be the first month with Holmes sidelined. Dickerson announced earlier Tuesday that Holmes broke his hand and won't return until after Thanksgiving.
South Carolina: Begins the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tipoff tournament with a home game against Stony Brook on Friday.
USC Upstate: Hosts Brevard in its home opener on Saturday before playing four straight games away from Spartanburg. ?