South Carolina overwhelmed by No. 1 Tar Heels

South Carolina was overwhelmed by top-ranked North Carolina from

the start.

The Gamecocks fell behind by 15 points early and never recovered

in an 87-62 loss to the Tar Heels in the third round of the Las

Vegas Invitational on Friday night.

”They’re really talented,” South Carolina coach Darrin Horn

said of the Tar Heels. ”They’re long and athletic. They have a

great scorer in Barnes and Marshall dishes a great game.”

RJ Slawson led South Carolina (2-3) with career highs of 13

points and 14 rebounds, and had four blocks. Daimen Leonard and

Malik Cooke each had 12 points, and Anthony Gill added 10 points

and six rebounds.

The Gamecocks had 25 turnovers to only 10 for North

Carolina.

”The story was turnovers,” Horn said. ”It’s plain and

simple.”

On Saturday, South Carolina will play Southern California, which

lost to UNLV 66-55 earlier on Friday.

North Carolina never trailed, jumping out to a 19-4 lead. The

Tar Heels made it 27-10, with P.J. Hairston scoring those next

eight points.

”We’re pleased to have the win,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams

said. ”We didn’t play exceptionally well. Give South Carolina

credit. They kept coming. Early, it was a 15-point game. But they

kept coming back and making plays that made us uncomfortable. I was

never worried about the outcome of the game. I was just concerned

about how we played. Our defense forced them into 17 turnovers in

the first half.”

North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall scored just four points, but

had 14 assists and six steals with only one turnover.

”Kendall, I thought was sensational,” North Carolina coach Roy

Williams said. ”Those are the kinds of stats that really important

to our team.”

Harrison Barnes had 21 points and five rebounds, and Hairston

had 19 to lead North Carolina (5-0), who will face will face UNLV

(6-0) in the championship game Saturday night.

John Henson had 18 points and eight rebounds, and Tyler Zeller

added 12 points and five rebounds for the Tar Heels, who outscored

the Gamecocks in fast-break points, 16-0.

”We were energetic and we got out to where we wanted to be,”

Williams said. ”I think they were shell-shocked a little

bit.”

South Carolina never got the lead below 11 points in the second

half, and the Tar Heels extended the advantage to 27 in the final

minute.

The game was the first meeting between the teams since Dec. 7,

1996, and North Carolina leads the series 57-21. About 3,000 North

Carolina fans attended the game at the 8,000-seat arena.