March 15, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Tarence Kinsey scored 23 points and Antoine Tisby added 16 to lift South Carolina to a 74-55 victory over Western Kentucky on Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT.
The Gamecocks (19-15), who have played five games in seven days, are trying to become the second team to win consecutive NIT titles. St. John’s accomplished the feat in 1943 and 1944.
Kinsey was 5-for-9 from behind the arc. Tre Kelley added 13 points, and the Gamecocks controlled the game throughout.
The Hilltoppers (23-8), led by Anthony Winchester’s 20 points, got to within six with 7:47 to go, but South Carolina went on a 16-4 run to seal the game. Winchester also grabbed 16 rebounds.
Winchester’s five consecutive points kept the Hilltoppers in it late. But after a turnover, the Gamecocks went on their run. Western Kentucky finished with 23 turnovers.
On the other hand, the Gamecocks had eight blocks and 17 steals.
Tisby converted a three-point play during the key run to give South Carolina a 51-42 lead with 7:30 left. Rocky Trice followed that with two steals and an offensive rebound to help South Carolina regain control of the game, 57-42 with 6:03 to go.
Elgrace Wilborn also had 13 points for Western Kentucky.
Winchester, the Sun Belt Conference player of the year, went 7-for-18, including four 3s. But it wasn’t enough.
The Hilltoppers were outmatched from the start. They had five turnovers in the first five minutes and didn’t score their fifth point until Winchester hit a 3 with 12:07 left in the first half.
South Carolina will face the winner of Friday’s Florida State-Butler game.
The Hilltoppers’ jerseys had the name “Rumph” on the back to remember Danny Rumph, who died on Mother’s Day and would have been a senior this year. Western Kentucky also wore them in a 69-65 loss to Georgia on Nov. 26.