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Dec. 30, 2013

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Coach Martin Players

COLUMBIA, S.C. – After scoring 78 points two days ago, South Carolina (6-6) followed Saturday’s performance with its best offensive showing of the season tonight, defeating Marshall (5-8) 92-65 at Colonial Life Arena.

The Gamecocks were led by Tyrone Johnson and Brenton Williams who each scored 18 points on the night. Along with Duane Notice (13) and Demetrius Henry (12), the four combined for 61 of the team’s 92 points. Shawn Smith led the Herd with 19 points, while Ryan Taylor chipped in 18.

Williams continued his hot shooting of late from beyond the arc by hitting his first two to give Carolina an early 6-4 lead. After a pair of free throws from Taylor tied-up the game, the Gamecocks went on a an 8-3 run as Henry scored four points for Carolina in the paint on consecutive possessions.

As the Herd cut the deficit to three, Henry was there again to extend the lead, hitting a pair of jumpers to push the Gamecocks lead 20-13 with eight minutes remaining.

With Carolina holding a 24-18 lead, Marshall went on a 11-4 run over a two-plus minute span to take a 29-28 lead with 3:55 remaining in the half, its first since taking 4-3 lead early in the game. The Herd went 6-6 from the line during the stretch.

The Gamecocks regained the lead though on a jumpers from Michael Carrera and Johnson. After trading field goals, and the lead, Carolina finished the half on 6-0 run to end the half and take a 36-31 lead into the break after holding Marshall without a field goal over the final 2:44.

Despite allowing the Herd to convert on only eight field goals in the opening 20 minutes, the visitors went 14-20 (70 percent) from the free throw line as the Gamecocks were whistled for 16 fouls.

South Carolina opened the second half on a 9-3 run to take a 45-34 advantage. Sindarius Thornwell scored the three of the first five points of the half after sitting much of the first half with two fouls.

The Herd was able to get the deficit back down to seven with less than 16 minutes to play after a Taylor scored on put back. The Gamecocks quickly countered though as Williams found Notice open in the left corner for a 3. The triple ignited a 14-1 Carolina run over the next three minutes. The freshman ended the night two points off his career-high, but tied his high in assists with six and set a new high in rebounds with six.

With 9:15 remaining, Williams drove to basket and scored a lay-up after being fouled. The senior went to the line and converted on the three-point play and passed John Roche’s school record for consecutive free throws made in the process with his 42nd in a row. Williams’ streak dates back to Feb. 28, 2013 versus when he hit the second of two free throws versus Missouri.

On Marshall’s following possession, Williams turned over Smith and took it the other way to give the Gamecocks a 71-48 lead after a quick 8-2 run with 8:39 remaining.

Holding an 18-point lead with under seven minutes left, Johnson scored six-straight points to extend to the Gamecocks lead to 80-57. The junior finished the night by totaling 18 points for the third time this season.

Carolina closed out the game out-scoring the Herd 12-8, to finished off the 92-65 win.

For only the second time this season, South Carolina hit over 55 percent from the field, going 34-66 (56.8 percent), while the defense held Marshall to 37.8 percent (17-45). The shooting helped Carolina negate a 12-point advantage for the Herd on the free throw line as the visitors hit 30-46 (65.2 percent) from the stripe compared to the Gamecocks who were 18-25 (72 percent). Carolina held a decided advantage on the boards at 45-27.

The Gamecocks will return to Colonial Life Arena on Friday night as they host South Carolina State in their final non-conference game of the regular season. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and will air on SportsSouth/FOX Sports Carolinas.