KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- John Calipari said Rodney Carney looked like Michael Jordan in practice. Now South Carolina believes it.
Carney drilled six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 26 points to lead seventh-seeded Memphis to a 59-43 victory over the 10th-seeded Gamecocks in the first round of the East Rutherford Region.
A 6-7 sophomore, Carney averaged 12.7 points this season. He surpassed that with 13 points in the first 14 minutes as the Tigers raced to a 27-15 lead and were never threatened the rest of the way, maintaining a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
"He played like Michael Jordan in practice all week and that's the way he played today," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "He was really great."
"It's great to have a game like this in the NCAA Tournament," said Carney, who was 10-of-17 from the floor, including 6-of-12 from the arc, and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Memphis (22-7) earned its first NCAA Tournament win since 1995 and will meet second-seeded Oklahoma State in the second round on Sunday.
South Carolina (23-11) was eliminated in the first round for the fifth straight time - the previous ones in 1974, 1989, 1997 and 1998.
The Gamecocks, who averaged 70 points a game this season, made just two 3-pointers in 13 attempts and shot 36 percent overall. Carlos Powell was the only player in double figures with 11 points.
Josh Gonner, South Carolina's second-leading scorer, made just 1-of-8 shots and finished with five points.
"We guarded everywhere on the floor," Calipari said. "I told my guys that the defense has to be a constant and they responded."
Memphis only shot 39 percent, but made nine 3-pointers - six by Carney and three by Anthony Rice, who finished with 12 points.
It was the first meeting between the teams since Memphis posted a 72-62 win over the Gamecocks in the 2002 National Invitation Tournament championship game.
"It's frustrating for us, but they played great defensively," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "They won the battle of the boards (36-25) and hit some big 3-pointers. It was Carney's day."
Carney hit three of his 3-pointers in a 13-2 run which opened a 27-15 lead for the Tigers with 6:05 left in the half. Memphis didn't score again in the half until Carney hit his fourth 3-pointer with 34 seconds left.
But South Carolina went nearly 11 minutes without a field goal after freshman Tre Kelley converted a layup with 9:39 remaining in the first half. A pair of free throws by Kelley with 13:32 left in the second half pulled the Gamecocks within 38-28, but they got no closer.
Carney's last basket increased Memphis' lead to 55-40 with 5:10 left.