It was a fight to the finish for USC Tuesday night in their season opener against SC State, but the Gamecocks held on for an 80-77 victory making Lamont Paris a winner in his first official game as their head coach.
Jakobi Wright made one of two from the line with :03 left giving USC the three-point lead. Rakeim Gary was intentionally fouled with less than a second left. He missed the first free throw and made the second, but he stepped over the line too soon, so the point was wiped off the board; The ball went over to the Gamecocks and they inbounded the ball to end the game.
USC led 36-33 at halftime, built the lead to 12, and led by 10 with 4:51 to play. The Bulldogs scored the next seven points to make it a game down the stretch. A three-point play by GG Jackson helped the Gamecocks stem the tide, and they hit five free throws in the final minute to maintain their lead.
Hayden Brown led the Gamecocks with 21 points. Jackson recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Lesown Hallums led the Bulldogs with 20 points.
Both teams shot 44% from the floor with the Bulldogs beating the Gamecocks from three 11 to 7. But the Gamecocks made up for that from the line outscoring the Bulldogs 21-10. The Gamecocks also hurt State with second chance points 24-6 with 14 offensive rebounds. They outscored the Bulldogs in the paint 34-22.
USC is back in action Friday night at home against Clemson.