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NCAA Men's Basketball Scoreboard: Recap
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South Carolina 66, Syracuse 59
Posted: Wednesday March 27, 2002 01:25 AM
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South Carolina
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NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Perhaps Syracuse should have kept its white uniforms on.

Aaron Lucas scored 20 points and Jamel Bradley added 13 as South Carolina rode its backcourt in the second half to a 66-59 victory over the Orangemen in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.

Both teams opened the game wearing white uniforms because Syracuse (23-12) did not realize that it was supposed to wear orange as the visiting team. A team manager was dispatched to the hotel and when the orange jerseys arrived, a television timeout was taken earlier at the 17:19 mark.

South Carolina (22-14) started slowly and was staring at a 9-2 deficit eight minutes into the contest. Bradley hit a 3-pointer to finally get the Gamecocks going after their initial nervousness.

"We opened a little bit nervous, a little bit anxious," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "We were able to stay within earshot when we were not playing well." Lucas nailed a 3-pointer to narrow the deficit to 29-26 at halftime and neither team led by more than four points until the game's final minute.

Syracuse had decided not to switch its shorts when the initial uniform change occurred and wore orange jerseys and white shorts. The Orangemen finally wore their matching orange uniforms for the entire second half.

"In the storied history of Gamecock basketball, there has never been a team that has beaten a team that wore three different sets of jerseys in the same night," Odom joked.

"We should have kept the white ones on," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "They didn't know where we were." Tony Kitchings made two free throws to give South Carolina the lead for good and Rolando Howell added a basket for a 59-55 advantage with 3:02 remaining. The Orangemen pulled within two points for the final time at 61-59 on freshman Craig Forth's inside basket but Howell responded with a jumper and Syracuse guard DeShaun Williams had a pair of costly miscues.

Williams had a turnover on the next possession and also missed a 1-and-1 opportunity with 49 seconds left. It capped a miserable night as he managed just five points. Preston Shumpert led Syracuse with 28 points but received little help.

"It wasn't the defense," Boeheim said. "The biggest problem we've had is not scoring enough points. Our other offensive guys (besides Shumpert) have not played well." The Gamecocks placed four players in double figures as Kitchings scored 13 points and Howell added 11 and 11 rebounds. South Carolina solved Syracuse's famed 2-3 zone by placing both Kitchings and Howellon the block, which allowed open looks to Lucas and Bradley, who had 10 points after halftime.

"We changed the focus of our offense," said Odom, who notched his 300th victory. "We were able to get the ball in the throat of the defense. It was a little more power basketball." South Carolina now faces Memphis in Thursday's championship while the Orangemen meet Temple in the consolation game. The Gamecocks improved to 1-3 all-time against Syracuse.

 


 
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