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Nov. 4, 2010

Box Score | Quotes | media-icon-photogallery.gif Photo Gallery

By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director

South Carolina vs. Kentucky Wesleyan
November 4, 2010 • Columbia, S.C.
Team 1st 2nd Total
Kentucky Wesleyan 24 34 58
South Carolina 34 37 71
Coach Horn

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Led by 23 points from freshman Bruce Ellington and a double-double by senior Sam Muldrow, South Carolina pulled away late in the second half to defeat Kentucky Wesleyan 71-58 in an exhibition game Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena.

Ellington finished 9-of-19 from the field and brought the crowd to its feet several times with an array of outstanding plays. Muldrow finished the night with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds – plus three blocks – and sophomore Lakeem Jackson filled the stat sheet with 16 points, seven rebounds and five steals.

Kentucky Wesleyan, who finished the 2009-10 season ranked No. 5 in the final NCAA Division II poll, would not go away quietly. South Carolina saw a 10-point halftime lead evaporate as the Panthers went on a 13-2 scoring run midway through the second half to take a 52-49 lead with just under 9:00 to play.

After the teams traded baskets and the lead three times, freshman Brian Richardson nailed a deep 3-pointer to give the Gamecocks a 58-55 lead with 5:30 to play, and South Carolina never trailed again as they finished the game on an 18-3 run over the final six minutes.

Ellington wowed the crowd in his Gamecock debut. His hustle was evident throughout the game, but none more so than at the end of the first half. With the Gamecocks holding for one shot, Ellington drove the lane but missed the layup with three seconds left. But after KWC’s Kwan Walker pulled down the rebound, Ellington stripped the ball, chased it down past the hash mark, and in one motion picked up the ball, rotated 180 degrees in mid-air, and heaved up a desperation 35-foot shot at the buzzer that banked in to give South Carolina a 34-24 halftime lead.

Carolina forced the Panthers into 19 turnovers, which translated into 23 Gamecock points. But Kentucky Wesleyan was able to control the boards, out-rebounding the Gamecocks 53-41 and converting 19 second-chance points.

Both teams showed some early signs of rust in the first half. South Carolina opened the game 3-for-19 from the field, and the Panthers grabbed a lead at 12-8 with just more than 11 minutes to play in the opening frame as the Gamecocks went without a field goal for a stretch of nearly seven minutes. But a Muldrow 3-pointer with 9:59 left in the half ended the drought, and the Gamecocks proceeded to hit their next four shots to spark a 14-2 scoring run and take a 22-14 lead with just more than 6:00 to play in the half.

KWC had an equally rough time, connecting on just 9-of-30 attempts from the floor in the first half, including 1-of-9 from three-point range. The Panthers finished 19-of-66 (28.8%) from the floor (3-of-26 on 3-pointers) but their free throw-shooting ability – 17-of-24 (70.8%) – kept them in the game.

The Panthers were led by Cardell McFarland, who finished with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting and a 6-for-8 night at the free throw line. Marseilles Stewart had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. It was the third straight year for the Gamecocks to face KWC in exhibition play. Carolina bested the Panthers 78-55 last season and took a 75-55 win in 2008.

The Gamecocks open the 2010-11 regular season on Friday, Nov. 12, with a home contest against Elon. The contest is set for a 9 p.m. tip and will be televised by Fox Sports Carolinas.