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Nov. 14, 2008

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)–Darrin Horn could’ve gotten upset about South Carolina’s foul problems, its lack of depth or surrendering much of a 26-point lead in the second half.

Instead, the Gamecocks new coach chose to see the positives of his debut – most important of all being the 89-76 win over Jacksonville State on Friday night.

Horn was coaching his first game at South Carolina, coming over from a successful run at Western Kentucky to replace the retired Dave Odom.

“I think we really saw some good things,” Horn said.

Like six South Carolina players in double figures, led by the 17 points apiece from Zam Fredrick and Mike Holmes.

There were also the opening runs in each half: 10-0 to start the game, and 11-2 after the break, that helped South Carolina build a 58-32 lead early in the second half.

Even though Jacksonville State cut that margin in half, Horn or his South Carolina players weren’t about to let that spoil things.

“A win is a win. We’re 1-0 to open the year,” Fredrick said. “If we would’ve lost, there would’ve been a whole lot of other questions.”

Still, not everything went perfectly for South Carolina. Starter Brandis Raley-Ross fell hard to the court with a left knee injury right before the end of the first half. Horn didn’t know the severity or Raley-Ross’ availability for South Carolina’s next game Sunday against Winthrop.

Raley-Ross will have the injury evaluated again Saturday.

And Horn was disappointed with his backcourt’s foul trouble – Fredrick fouled out while all-Southeastern Conference point guard Devan Downey played just 27 minutes because of four fouls including his first technical at South Carolina.

“It’s something we have to deal with,” Horn said.

Jacksonville State also debuted a first-time coach in James Green. Things looked bleak when JSU fell behind 58-32 with 16:50 to go.

But a 27-14 run over the next 6 minutes brought them life in the Gamecocks vs. Gamecocks matchup.

South Carolina regained control after that as Holmes had two baskets, Dominique Archie hit a pair of foul shots and Downey made a bucket.

“Hopefully, that will be something we can build on,” Green said. “It’s the fact that we won’t ever quit, that we continue to play.”

Freshman Brandon Crawford led Jacksonville State with 28 points, 22 in the second half.

Downey picked up a technical foul, his first at South Carolina, for deliberate conduct. South Carolina could’ve gotten a second one when Holmes clearly grabbed the rim as he blocked a shot.

“We just got to be smarter and stay on the court,” Downey said.

Archie had 13 points, Downey 12, Evka Baniulis 11 and Austin Steed 10 on 5-of-5 shooting.

When it was over, Horn and his players didn’t cheer wildly or celebrate the win. After all, Fredrick pointed out, Horn won 29 games a year ago when he took Western Kentucky into the NCAA round of 16.

“He’s used to winning,” Fredrick said. “Jumping around, anything we could’ve done, he’s seen that before. He’s been to the sweet 16.”