Nov. 26, 2001
By JEFFREY COLLINS
Associated Press Writer
New South Carolina coach Dave Odom feared his team might be jet-lagged from a trip to Hawaii during Monday night’s home debut.
Instead the Gamecocks (2-2) came out sky-high then cruised to an 83-66 win over East Tennessee State.
“Coming back from Maui, you’re not sure how you are going to respond,” said Odom, whose team went 1-2 at the Maui Invitational last week.
“I think we showed the will to win,” he said.
South Carolina used a 29-11 run over the last 10:07 of the first half to break out to a 49-25 at half. The Gamecocks shot 62 percent from the field during the first 20 minutes.
Aaron Lucas scored 14 points and Chuck Eidson added 12 for South Carolina. Jerald Fields scored 12 points for East Tennessee State (1-3), while Dimeco Childress and Zakee Wadood added 11.
South Carolina shot 52 percent (38-for-58) from the field and hit 13-of-28 3-pointers.
Marius Petravicius, playing in his first game since serving a three-game NCAA suspension for playing in a foreign league, scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds before foul trouble landed him on the bench for a good portion of the second half.
Odom thought the return of Petravicius might help the interior game for the Gamecocks, who were outrebounded by an average of nearly seven boards in three games at the Maui Invitational.
On Monday, the rebounding difference was even. However, South Carolina main interior players still struggled. Tony Kitchings scored nine points, while Rolando Howell scored four.
“We will do OK on the outside if we can continue to build our inside game,” Odom said.
But with the 3-pointers falling so well, Odom didn’t want to abandon his perimeter shooting.
Lucas and Michael Boynton, who scored a career-high 11 points, were both 3-of-4 from behind the arc and six Gamecocks hit at least one 3-pointer.
Lucas knows his team needs to get the inside game going by the time the Southeastern Conference schedule begins in January.
“We just need to get everyone working as a unit down low,” he said.
The Buccaneers shot 42 percent in the first half, but had 11 turnovers and just 10 made shots.
“We didn’t come out and play with the type of intensity you need when you play an SEC team on the road,” East Tennessee State coach Ed DeChellis said.
DeChellis said considering Odom’s reputation for tough, grinding half-court teams at Wake Forest, he was surprised South Carolina came out running and shooting from the outside.
“They were 8-of-15 on 3-pointers in the first half,” DeChellis said. “Didn’t expect that.”
Odom’s won his first home game at South Carolina, just like he’s won his other 12 home openers at Wake Forest and three at East Carolina. But the excitement of a new coach didn’t boost attendance. The announced crowd of 5,549 was well below Carolina Coliseum’s 12,000-seat capacity. And the Gamecocks open an 18,000-seat arena next year.
Odom said he expects crowds to build as the buzz about the team grows. “I’m looking forward to seeing our crowds increase and the atmosphere inside the arena intensifying,” he said.