December 18, 2001
By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s Marius Petravicius usually shares the middle with three or four large teammates. Against South Carolina State, Petravicius was alone in the lane – and the spotlight.
Petravicius scored 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds as the Gamecocks moved to 10-0 all time against the Bulldogs (2-8) in a 69-50 victory Tuesday night.
Petravicius, 6-foot-10, normally rotates with fellow 6-10 junior Tony Kitchings and 6-9 sophomore Rolando Howell underneath. But with Kitchings out because of concussions, it was Petravicius who showed the defensive fight and the quick-shooting attack that coach Dave Odom had challenged him too before this game.
“I think I always get the chance to show my game,” Petravicius said. “But some nights we have four or five guys who are playing well.”
Petravicius scored 12 points in the second half as the Gamecocks ran out to a 62-31 lead with 6:45 remaining. And the effort underneath came at the right time for South Carolina, minus Kitchings.
“Yeah, but I don’t think it’s just one guy, coach has said all guys have to step up” with Kitchings out, Petravicius said. “We did a good job of that.”
Odom has worked at getting Petravicius to quickly drive the lane or catch the ball and immediately make a scoring move. Several games the past two years, Petravicius will get the ball down low and pump fake his man to death before shooting.
That was not the case in this one.
“He had his way inside,” Odom said. “We challenged him before the game, getting him to rebound the ball defensively better. I thought he was by far our most effective inside player.”
South Carolina State (2-8) had its third brutal beating against a major road opponent. The Bulldogs fell at Wake Forest 115-75 on Dec. 7, then were beaten at Kansas 106-73 this past Saturday.
Coach Cy Alexander considers such games good tuneups when his team goes against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference competition next month. But it was hard to see much good in this as South Carolina took control.
Howell had 13 points and Aaron Lucas 10.
Howell and Chuck Eidson had seven points apiece as the Gamecocks got moving midway through the first half with a 24-6 run to lead 34-12. Howell had an inside shot early in the run, then got fouled on a turnaround and made the free throw. He put in another basket to put South Carolina up 23-10.
Then Eidson, who missed half of last season with a knee injury, took over. He hit a long 3-pointer, converted a layup off a pass from Michael Boynton, then closed the rally with a bucket with 4:04 to go.
Then it was all Petravicius after the break. He scored five of South Carolina’s first six baskets of the second half as he easily slammed down shots on the smaller Bulldogs, who have only one upperclassman taller than 6-foot-8.
Petravicius and the other starters came out when the Gamecocks led by 31.
South Carolina State went on a 15-0 run as Gamecocks coach Dave Odom had only one starter, Howell, in the game the final seven minutes.
But Howell hit a bucket and two free throws to extend South Carolina’s lead back to 66-46.
Moses Malone Jr. – yes, the son of that Moses Malone – led the Bulldogs with 16 points.
The Gamecocks have won their past seven games with South Carolina State by an average of more than 18 points. The closest game in that span was a 74-60 victory three seasons ago.
“It’s really beginning to drive me crazy, because I don’t why we come in here and play like we’re intimidated,” Alexander said.