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Nov. 11, 2011

Final Stats | Quotes | media-icon-photogallery.gif Photo Gallery

November 11, 2011
Team 1st 2nd Total
Western Carolina 25 25 50
South Carolina 35 40 75
Coach Horn
B. Williams & L. Jackson A. Gill & C. Geathers

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Freshman Anthony Gill and sophomore Brenton Williams scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, to lead the South Carolina men’s basketball team to a season-opening 75-50 victory over Western Carolina on Friday night at Colonial Life Arena.

Gill was 6-of-7 from the floor, including 1-for-1 from 3-point range, while Williams was 5-for-8 on the night. Williams also led a solid defensive effort, collecting five of the Gamecocks’ 11 steals. Senior Malik Cooke added 10 points and seven rebounds, and junior Lakeem Jackson filled the stat sheet with five points, five assists, 10 rebounds and three steals.

With the win, the Gamecocks (1-0) claim their 11th straight season opener, including a 4-0 mark under head coach Darrin Horn.

South Carolina dominated nearly every statistical category as it shot 50.8 percent from the floor (30-of-59) and held the Catamounts to 36.2 percent shooting (17-of-47). The Gamecocks also held a decisive advantage in points in the paint (46-18), second chance points (20-9), bench points (38-16) and points off turnovers (22-15) and they controlled the boards with a 37-29 edge, including 18 offensive boards.

The Gamecocks used their defensive pressure to break an 8-8 tie early on with an 8-0 run, including six straight points off turnovers. Williams made a transition layup off a steal by Brian Richardson to cap the run and give South Carolina a 16-8 lead at the 10:40 mark.

Western Carolina (0-1) scrapped back with back-to-back 3-pointers and a dunk by Brandon Boggs to knot the game at 16-16, but South Carolina scored the next nine points to build a lead it would not relinquish. Williams gave the Gamecocks their biggest lead of the half at 33-22 by converting a layup off a steal by Jackson, one of five South Carolina had in the half. Williams, who paced the Gamecocks with 11 points in the half, sank a pair of free throws with less than a minute remaining to give South Carolina a 35-25 advantage heading into the locker room.

The Gamecocks outscored Western Carolina 40-25 in the second half as they held the Catamounts to just 32 percent shooting. Gill drained a 3-pointer at the 17:00 mark to give South Carolina a 43-29 lead.

After Boggs knocked down a jumper to trim the Gamecocks’ lead to 43-33 with 15:06 remaining, South Carolina outscored Western Carolina 26-10 over the next 10 minutes to pull away for the win.

Sophomore Eric Smith chipped in a career-high nine points and four assists for the Gamecocks.

Trey Sumler and Harouna Mutombo netted 11 points apiece to lead Western Carolina.

The Gamecocks return to action on Tuesday in their first road contest of the season as they travel to Elon for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The game will be televised on SportSouth.