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Aug. 11, 2008

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NITRA, SlovakiaDevan Downey’s 29 second-half points helped propel the University of South Carolina men’s basketball team to a 96-93 come-from-behind victory Monday night against Nitra Basketball Klub in Nitra, Slovakia.

Fouls hurt the Gamecocks in the first half, with six players collecting at least two and Branden Conrad and Sam Muldrow each accumulating three. After trailing almost all of the first quarter and down 28-23 heading to the second, South Carolina used a 9-1 run to take the lead with 7:40 to go. Zam Fredrick hit consecutive 3-pointers to first tie the contest 29-all and then put Carolina ahead 32-29.

The next 4:30 saw Nitra score 14 unanswered points to lead 43-32 with under three minutes to play. Nitra eventually led by as many as 12 before the half was over. Six key points by Downey in the final minutes helped close the margin to 51-41 at the intermission.

South Carolina came out energized in the third quarter, hitting seven of its first nine shots. Brandis Raley-Ross’s 3-point bucket with 3:40 remaining tied the score at 63 apiece, but Nitra managed to regain the lead and go up 73-68 before starting the fourth.

Down seven 88-81 with under five minutes to play, the Gamecocks’ determination and will began paying dividends. With Nitra still ahead 93-88, Raley-Ross hit a clutch trey with 1:05 to play and Downey’s drive to the basket on the Gamecocks’ next possession tied it.

After Nitra missed a jump shot on the other end, South Carolina took the ball up court with about a four-second difference between the game clock and shot clock. Downey held the ball for the final shot and drained a 3 from the top of the key with five seconds remaining to push the Gamecocks’ record in Europe to 3-0.

Downey finished with 37 points on 13-of-18 shooting, went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and hit all eight of his free-throw attempts. In the second half, he made 10-of-12 shots and hit all three of his 3-point tries.

Fredrick turned in an impressive performance as well with 22 points, going 8-for-14 from the floor. Raley-Ross made 4-of-6 from 3-point range and finished with 13 points. Evaldas Baniulis tallied nine points and grabbed five rebounds.

As a team, the Gamecocks shot over 50 percent for the second game in a row, going 32-of-62 (51.6 percent) and they made 48.1 percent of their 3-point attempts (13-of-27).

South Carolina will take the day off from competition Tuesday as they make their way to Vienna, Austria, which sits about 50 miles from Bratislava, Slovakia. The Gamecocks are scheduled to tour the city in the afternoon.