Nov. 17, 2017
Men's Basketball vs. UTEP (ESPN Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — Chris Silva scored 15 points and South Carolina had a dominating first-half performance to beat UTEP 80-56 in Friday's consolation bracket of the relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
The Gamecocks (3-1) struggled in Thursday's loss to Illinois State, but they were much sharper against the Miners (1-2). They built a double-digit lead in the first 6 minutes and shot 55 percent in the first half, leading 50-24 by the break and by 32 after halftime.
Matt Willms scored 18 points for UTEP, which hit shots early but undercut any momentum with a constant stream of turnovers. UTEP committed 16 turnovers in the first half, leading to 21 points for the Gamecocks, and finished with 23.
The Miners lost leading scorer and rebounder Keith Frazier to a first-half injury. He appeared to land on a close-out defender on a 3-pointer and came up grabbing his right ankle with 2:25 left.
South Carolina: Coach Frank Martin was irked by his team's execution against Illinois State's zone defense Thursday. The Gamecocks responded with a fast start in an early game - it tipped off at 10:30 a.m. - and never trailed. At one point midway through the first half, they made more shots (11) than the Miners attempted (10). And they shared the basketball, finishing with 19 assists on 27 baskets.
UTEP: The Miners have had a rough first two days in Conway, which is hosting the Tip-Off due to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. First they blew a nine-point lead in the final 3:23 to lose on a final-seconds three-point play to Boise State on Thursday. Then they had no response at all for South Carolina's edge and lost Frazier (17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) to the injury.
The Gamecocks jumped out to a 26-point lead at halftime thanks to shooting 54.5 percent (17-for-31) from the field the first 20 minutes. Carolina assisted on 19 of its 27 made field goals, a season-high.
South Carolina faces the winner of Appalachian State and Western Michigan in the fifth-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. ET. The Mountaineers and Broncos play this evening at 5 p.m. at the HTC Center. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
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