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Dec. 28, 2013

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

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Playing for the second time since Christmas, South Carolina (5-6) cruised to a 78-45 win in today’s rematch with Akron (6-5) at Colonial Life Arena behind a stellar day from senior guard Brenton Williams who tied a career-high in 3-pointers (6) and field goal attempts (17) as he led all scorers with 24 points.

To go with Williams’ 6-9 shooting from beyond the arc, sophomore Michael Carrera chipped in a season-best 13 points as well as seven rebounds. Sophomore Mindaugas Kacinas also tallied double-figures on the afternoon with 11 points. Akron was led by Quincy Diggs who recorded 13 points .

After the Zips grabbed an early 4-0 lead, the Gamecocks quickly erased it from the 3-point line as Sindarius Thornwell and Williams hit back-to-back 3s to open up the game for Carolina.

Williams extend the lead to five just under five minutes into the game, but Akron hit a 7-0 spurt over the next three minutes as Deji Ibitayo collected five of five points during the run that gave the Zips a 14-12 lead.

After reclaiming the lead on a pair of free throws from Kacinas, the sophomore extended the lead to three with a lay-in after a strong drive through the lane from Duane Notice freed him up under the rim. A rebound on a his own missed free throw from Thornwell on the Gamecocks next possession allowed Carolina push the lead to 24-18. Notice collected one of his career-high six assists as he found Williams on the right side for an open 3.

Akron managed to cut the deficit to two with 1:46 remaining, but the strong shooting from Williams continued as the senior hit his third 3-pointer of the half. Williams ended the half with 11 points, hitting a season-high three 3’s as the Gamecocks took a 30-24 lead into the half.

South Carolina continued its first-half momentum into the second 20 minutes. After missing on its first two shots of the half, the Gamecocks raced out to a 17-1 run with six different players scoring in the opening eight-plus minutes of the half. The Gamecocks held the Zips to 0-6 from field during the stretch as they pushed the lead to 47-25 with 12:24 remaining in the game.

After Pat Forsythe hit a jumper to end the drought for the Zips, Williams connected on his fourth and fifth 3s of the afternoon on back-to-back possessions to give the Gamecocks a 53-27 lead with 10:49 left.

With just over eight minutes remaining, the Gamecocks went on an 11-0 run starting with Carrera passing his season-high mark with his 13th point of the day. The three-minute stretch also saw Kacinas score four of his 11 points as the Gamecocks took a 69-35 lead.

During the run, Williams tied John Roche’s school record for consecutive made free throws at 41. Williams’ stretch dates back to Feb. 28, 2013 when he hit the second of two free throws against Missouri. Roche accumlated his streak during the 1970 season in a four game stretch (Wake Forest, Davidson, Duke, at N.C. State) from Feb. 9-18.

The 33-point win for the Gamecocks was keyed by a season-high 20 assists to only seven turnovers. Four days ago, Carolina had 12-10 ratio against Zips in its 10-point win at the Diamond Head Classic.

The Gamecocks had a strong performance defensively on the afternoon as they turned the Zips over 21 times and held them to 13-40 (32.5 percent) from the field. Carolina finished the day shooting 28-63 (44.4 percent), going 8-15 (53.3 percent) from 3.