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Dec. 5, 2008

Final Stats | Quotes | Notes

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Four players scored in double-digits as the South Carolina men’s basketball team defeated in-state rival Furman 72-48 Friday night at Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina attempted 34 free throws in the game and made 23 as both teams encountered early foul trouble in the second half.

Devan Downey went 10-for-11 from the free throw line and scored 19 points, five rebounds and had two assists and two steals to lead the Gamecocks. Evaldas Baniulis contributed 12 points, Zam Fredrick scored 11 and Dominique Archie posted 10 points for South Carolina (6-1).

The meeting was the first between the two former Southern Conference rivals since December 4, 1999, a game that South Carolina won 75-68 at the old Carolina Coliseum. The Gamecocks have won the last 11 meetings in the series.

After losing their first game of the season to the College of Charleston last Friday, the Gamecocks have defeated their last two opponents by 26 and 24 points, their largest wins of the season. Winthrop (1-6) drops its sixth in a row. Jordan Miller led the Paladins with 14 points and four steals.

South Carolina rushed out to an early 7-0 lead before Furman countered with it’s own streak of eight straight to turn the game into a tightly contested first half.

The teams traded baskets in a fairly back-and-forth game for the remainder of the half until Baniulis sparked the Gamecocks to a 9-0 run with under five minutes remaining to break the game open for South Carolina. Tied 23-23 with 4:39 remaining in the half, Baniulis scored his first bucket of the game – a three-pointer – to give Carolina the lead for good. Two possessions later, Baniulis stole the ball from Furman’s Bryson Barnes for a fast break layup to increase the score to 28-23. On the other end of the floor, he then grabbed his first rebound of the game and dished an assist to Mitchell Carter to increase the lead to seven points. Austin Steed hit a jumper for Carolina’s ninth consecutive basket and a 32-23 lead with two minutes remaining.

Following a Paladin jumper to end the streak, Steed hit another shot and Baniulis hit a free throw to put the Gamecocks up by double-digits, 35-25, heading into halftime. Downey had 10 points at the break while all six of Baniulis’s first-half points came in the final five minutes for the Gamecocks.

Furman threatened in the opening minutes of the second half by pulling to within six as the Gamecocks went scoreless in the opening 4:29. The lead slowly built back to 10 points before both teams entered double bonus with 10 minutes to play. South Carolina used the trips to the free throw line to steadily increase its lead with the lead first reaching 20 on an Archie free throw to make the score 59-39 with 6:56 remaining. The Gamecocks coasted for the remainder of the half to claim the victory.

South Carolina has an 11-day break with the start of exams on the University of South Carolina campus. The Gamecocks will return to the court December 16 when they host North Carolina Central in the second game of a five-game home stand. That game will tip-off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on SportSouth.