South Carolina 80, SC State 69
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)
Brian Richardson finished with 15 points, Breton Williams had 14 points and Damien Leonard added 10 for the Gamecocks (10-3), who played for the second straight game with eight scholarship players.
Senior LaShay Page was dismissed from the team on Friday with an academic issue. Freshman Michael Carrera missed his second straight game with a hip injury and Bruce Ellington has yet to rejoin the team since scoring the game-winning touchdown in South Carolina's victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
The Gamecocks' 10 wins match their total from a season ago. It's the first time since the 2008-09 season South Carolina won double-digit nonconference games and just the second time since 2003-4.
Matthew Hezekiah scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for South Carolina State (4-10).
The Bulldogs had lost six in a row coming in but came out hot from the field to take an early lead. They connected on 5 of their first 8 shots to jump out to an early 10-2 lead. But South Carolina kept chipping away from that point and finally took its first lead, 20-19, on a tip-in by Mindaugas Kacinas with 7:20 remaining in the half.
Once the Gamecocks took the lead, they never relinquished it. That was part of a 14-3 run that was started by a 3-pointer from Williams and included another 3-pointer by Leonard.
South Carolina held a 37-29 lead at the half and extended it to 13 points with 14:48 remaining. Jackson scored four points in that opening spurt as five different players scored.
But the Bulldogs went on an 11-4 run to pull back within six points, 54-48, but that was as close as they would get. The visitors twice more got within six points, the final time on a jumper by Patrick Myers to make it 61-55 with 7:08 remaining.
The Gamecocks used a 10-4 run to finally take control for good. The lead eventually grew to as many as 14 points before South Carolina settled for its fifth straight victory going into SEC play this week.