South Carolina holds off LSU 77-73 in opener of SEC tournament
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 added 15.
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 Dwayne 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 Johnson 13.
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.