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Nov. 10, 2006

Final Stats | Quotes

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -Tre Kelley scored 15 points, including the go-ahead free throw with 1:03 left, and South Carolina improved to 15-0 all-time against South Carolina State with a 55-52 opening night victory Friday.

The Gamecocks, who won the past two NIT titles, were on the ropes in this one, trailing 44-38 with 9:15 to go after Marcus McCants’ third 3-pointer.

But Kelley and Dwayne Day brought South Carolina back. Day had four baskets, two of them off sharp passes from Kelley, during a 14-3 run that put the Gamecocks ahead, 52-47.

The Bulldogs came back one last time, tying the game at 52 on Thomas Bookman’s 3 from the right corner with 1:26 to go.

Kelley drove the lane on South Carolina’s next possession and got fouled, making the first of his two free throws.

Travis Jones, South Carolina State’s top scorer with 14 points, had two chances in the last minute to rally his team. However, he was called for a jump ball turnover as he bobbled the ball while going up for a shot.

Then after Gamecock freshman Brandis Raley-Ross added two foul shots, Jones’ long 3 in the final seconds bounced away.

Brandon Wallace had 14 points and nine rebounds for South Carolina while Day finished with 12 points, 10 of them in the second half.

Earlier this week, Odom was uncertain whether he’d see the crisp Gamecocks he had watched in some practices, or the sloppy, sluggish ones in others. Odom and the sparse crowd at the Colonial Center – remember South Carolina and football coach Steve Spurrier take on Florida at The Swamp on Saturday – didn’t have to wait long to find out the answer.

The Gamecocks opened just 2 of 12 from the field over the first six minutes. Then after hitting five of seven shots to take a 15-8 lead, South Carolina State rallied back with some long outside shots.

Marcus McCants had two 3-pointers and Travis Jones another long-range basket as the Bulldogs tied things at 28.

But Wallace finished a three-on-one break with a rousing dunk in the final seconds to put the Gamecocks up 30-28 at halftime.

The defeat spoiled the coaching debut of South Carolina State’s Jamal Brown, who went to the NCAA tournament with the Bulldogs as a player and an assistant. He was hired after Ben Betts left for an assistant coach’s position at Oklahoma.