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Carolina cuts Blue Hose

South Carolina was able to overcome a poor first half shooting from the field and took advantage of turnovers to beat Presbyterian 66-58 on Tuesday night at the Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks (4-5) were just 7-of-29 in the first half but came out with guns blazing in the second half to surge ahead and win its second straight game.

Sophomore guard Bruce Ellington

Sophomore Bruce Ellington led the Gamecocks, which host No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday at noon, in the scoring column and in the run to begin the second half.

The Blue Hose (4-5) jumped out of the gates quickly when guard Josh Johnson drilled a pair of 3-point baskets. The visitors, which already registered a road win against Cincinnati earlier this season, were playing confident basketball in the early going and controlled the entire first half.

South Carolina couldn’t find much of the way of offense in the first half. The team tried to play around the basket but had little in the way of positive results. The Gamecocks, which shoot 29 percent from behind the arc, attempted just five 3-point shots in the first half, making one.

The approach was to get the ball inside, but the team shot just 24 percent from the field in the first half. Ellington had seven points on 3-of-7 shooting off the bench in 11 first half minutes. The Blue Hose would have had a bigger lead than the 25-19 halftime margin but the team couldn’t get out of its own way turning the ball over 12 times in the first 20 minutes.

In the second half, the Blue Hose continued to turn the ball over but the Gamecocks finally began to make some shots.

The Gamecocks took their first lead with 15:33 remaining in the first half when Ellington made a transition layup. Senior Malik Cooke made a fast break layup to put his team ahead 39-30, capping a 20-5 run to start the second half.

With 7:28 remaining in the second half, South Carolina hit 14-of-18 shots, including 2-of-3 from behind the 3-point line.

Presbyterian cut the deficit to just eight points with under four minutes remaining in the game on a 3-pointer from the corner but the Gamecocks responded on the following possession. Freshman Anthony Gill finished from underneath the rim with 3:22 and was fouled. His made free throw put his team up 63-52 and South Carolina never looked back.

South Carolina finished the game shooting 26-of-56 from the floor, good for 46 percent. The team was 19-of-27, or 70 percent, in the second half. Ellington led the team with 15 points while Cooke was right behind with 14.

The Gamecocks will host Ohio State on Saturday at noon. The Buckeyes (8-1) lost their first game of the season over the weekend to Kansas. The game will be televised by ESPN.

Photos by Juan Blas

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