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Dec. 5, 2006

Final Stats | Quotes | Notes

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Brandon Wallace had a career-high 22 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks to lead South Carolina to 67-55 victory Tuesday night over College of Charleston, spoiling the return of Cougars coach Bobby Cremins.

Cremins, the ex-Gamecock captain who led Georgia Tech to three Atlantic Coast Conference titles and a 1990 Final Four, is remembered as much around here for accepting the South Carolina job in 1993, then tearfully reneging and returning to Atlanta a few days later.

So when Cremins got back in coaching this summer, he wasn’t sure he wanted to follow through on the previously scheduled game with his alma mater because he was worried about any leftover bad feelings from South Carolina fans.

Convinced to play in part by his close friend, South Carolina’s Dave Odom, Cremins may have rethought things again – this time because of Wallace’s dominating play.

The South Carolina senior surpassed his career performance of 20 points, set against Lipscomb earlier this season. He also matched his previous high of seven blocks in the first half, several times swatting back the inside attempts of Cougars forward Jermaine Johnson.

Wallace, at 6-foot-9, even knocked down a 3-pointer in a first-half run by the Gamecocks (5-2) that turned a tight game into a blowout.

Coming in, this one was about Cremins, the white-haired wonder lured down South from the Bronx by the late Frank McGuire nearly four decades ago to help build a Southern basketball power.

He got a pleasant reception from the Colonial Center – just about all fans heeding Odom’s call not to boo their former hero for jilting the Gamecocks 13 years ago.

Early on, Cremins looked like he might again succeed on campus. The Cougars (3-6) led 13-9 with 14:07 left in the first half after Dontaye Draper’s two foul shots. But then South Carolina, fueled by some on-target long-range shooting, took control.

Dwayne Day made two 3-pointers during the stretch, with Bryce Sheldon, Wallace and Brandis Raley-Ross getting one apiece. The surge ended when Day took a pass from Tre Kelley and jammed home the basket to make put the Gamecocks ahead 31-19.

Wallace scored the first five points of the second half to push South Carolina’s lead to 41-25. Charleston did not get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Day had 17 points for South Carolina and made three of the team’s seven 3-pointers.

David Lawrence led the Cougars with 21 points and Draper added 20 in Charleston’s fourth straight loss.

Wallace’s seven first-half blocks tied his career best set against Alaska-Anchorage last season.