ATLANTA (AP) - South Carolina broke open a tight game with a
19-5 run and Dave Odom's retirement plans were put on hold as the
Gamecocks beat LSU 77-73 in the opening game of the Southeastern
Conference tournament Thursday.
South Carolina hit six 3-pointers after trailing 43-41 early in
the second half.
Evaldas Baniulis, a sophomore from Lithuania who reached double
figures in only three regular-season games, had 16 points for South
Carolina (14-17). Mike Holmes also had 16 and Dominique Archie
LSU led 54-52 before South Carolina took control, scoring 19 of
24 points for a 71-59 lead with 3:05 left. Baniulis had two
3-pointers during the run.
Odom announced in January he would retire at the end of his
seventh season as South Carolina's coach. He'll get at least one
more game with the Gamecocks advancing to play regular-season
champion Tennessee in the quarterfinals Friday.
The Tigers (13-18) cut the deficit to 74-70 on Chris Johnson's
put-back with 39 seconds left. Following two free throws by South
Carolina's Devan Downey, LSU's Alex Farrer hit a 3-pointer with 19
seconds left to make it 76-73.
South Carolina's DeWayne Day missed two free throws with 18.9
seconds left, giving LSU a chance. Marcus Thornton missed a 3 and
the Tigers grabbed the rebound, but South Carolina's Zam Frederick
stole it away with 3.1 seconds left to preserve the win.
Anthony Randolph led LSU with 22 points. Thornton added 17 and
Baniulis had four 3-pointers overall, including three in the
second half. Frederick and Downey each had 12 points, giving South
Carolina five players in double figures.
The Gamecocks were accused of giving up in their 89-56 loss at
No. 4 Tennessee in the regular-season finale, but they played tough
in building a 31-21 first-half lead against LSU.
Day hit two 3-pointers in the opening period for the Gamecocks,
who settled for a 37-34 halftime advantage.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)