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Dec. 29, 2012

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Junior guard Brian Richardson matched his season-high with 16 points to lead South Carolina to a 76-60 victory over Presbyterian on Saturday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena.

With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 9-3 on the season and extend their winning streak to a season-high four games. The Blue Hose drop to 2-11 overall.

Richardson was 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-5 from 3-point range as he reached double figures for the fourth consecutive game. He was one of four Gamecocks to score in double figures on the afternoon, as sophomore Damien Leonard (15), freshman Mindaugas Kacinas (13) and senior Lakeem Jackson (10) followed his lead.

Leonard also pulled down six rebounds, while guard Eric Smith dished out five assists with only one turnover. Junior forward RJ Slawson added five points, five rebounds and three blocks for Carolina.

Sophomore Jordan Downing led three Blue Hose in double figures with 19 points, while Khalid Mutakabbir (17) and Joshua Clyburn (10) also scored in double figures.

South Carolina built a 5-2 lead early after Richardson knocked down a trey from the right wing at the 17:15 mark of the first half, but the Blue Hose answered at the other end to pull to within 5-4 on a Clyburn jumper.

However, the Gamecocks pulled away to take an 18-6 lead with a 13-2 run capped by Kacinas layup with 11:11 remaining.

Presbyterian trimmed Carolina’s lead to 22-14 with a jumper by Downing with 8:26 left, but that was as close at the Blue Hose would get, as the Gamecocks outscored Presbyterian 18-10 to close out the half and build a 40-24 lead heading into the locker room.

The Gamecocks scored at a 57.1 percent (16-of-28) clip in the first half, including a 5-of-8 effort from deep. Richardson led the charge with three 3-pointers on his way to 12 points for the half.

South Carolina pushed its lead to 49-29 by the 14:17 mark of the second half on a fastbreak jumper by Leonard.

Presbyterian refused to go away as it outscored the Gamecocks 25-14 during the next 10 minutes to trim Carolina’s lead to 63-54 on a layup by Downing, but South Carolina buckled down and pulled away for the win by going on a 13-6 run to end the game.

The Gamecocks were without senior guard LaShay Page (academic issue) and freshman forward Michael Carrera (left hip injury) for the contest.

South Carolina returns to action on Jan. 5 at home against South Carolina State. Tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena.