Carerra Leads USC To First SEC Win

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By Sports Department

BATON ROUGE, La. (USC SID) -- Behind double-doubles from freshman forward Michael Carrera and senior forward Lakeem Jackson, South Carolina (11-5, 1-2 SEC) defeated LSU (9-5, 0-3 SEC) 82-73 in conference play on Wednesday night. The win was the first SEC win of the Frank Martin era and is the first road win in league play since a 64-56 victory at LSU on Feb. 2, 2011.

Carrera scored 21 of his career-high 23 points in the second half and overtime. The freshman also notched 10 rebounds. Jackson added 11 points and 11 rebounds in the winning effort for his third double-double of the season. The duo’s stat lines marks the first time two Gamecocks registered double-doubles in the same game since Dominique Archie and Mike Holmes did so against Winthrop on Nov. 16, 2008.

Junior guard Brenton Williams tallied 16 points and junior forward RJ Slawson scored 11. As a team, the Gamecocks went 28-of-37 from the free throw line, with Carrera and Williams hitting 9-of-10. The Gamecocks had 53 points off of the bench to the Tigers’ 17.

Sophomore guard Anthony Hickey scored 18 points and registered seven rebounds, both team highs. Senior guard Charles Carmouche added 13 points on the night. Junior forward Shavon Coleman also brought down seven boards in the contest. The Tigers recorded 22 turnovers to the Gamecocks’ 15. South Carolina turned LSU’s 22 turnovers into 27 points.

LSU jumped out to an early 9-4 lead, sparked by a 5-of-6 effort from the free throw line, which forced a quick timeout for the Gamecocks with 16:14 on the clock in the opening half. Carolina responded out of the break with a 7-2 run of its own, fueled by back-to-back layups from Jackson to tie the score at 11 with just over 14 minutes to play.

The teams traded buckets near the 12-minute mark, before the Gamecocks capitalized on 3s from Williams and Slawson, and solid free throw shooting from the duo to hold a 34-22 advantage with just under five minutes to play in the half.

The Tigers responded however, ending the half on an 11-1 run, including a 3 from Hickey and a 4-of-4 effort from the line from Carmouche and junior guard Andre Stringer. The Gamecocks missed their last seven shots attempts over the last four minutes of the half and held just a two-point lead at the break, 35-33.

Williams paced Carolina in the opening half with 12 points, while Jackson pulled down a team high seven rebounds. The Gamecocks also forced 13 LSU turnovers, three shy of the Tigers’ average per game, scoring 14 points off the takeaways.

Both teams came out firing in the second half, with freshman forward Laimonas Chatkevicius and Jackson hitting two lay-ups each for Carolina, but the Tigers were flawless from 3-point range, hitting all four of their early attempts, including three from Hickey, to hold a 47-44 upperhand at the first media timeout of the half.

Slawson connected for back-to-back layups, making the second a 3-point play after a Tiger foul near the 14-minute mark to tie the score at 49. The teams traded baskets through the next several minutes, as Carmouche hit the fifth 3 of the half for the Tigers and Carrera provided two layups for the Gamecocks.

The score stood tied at 56 with 8:51 on the clock before Jackson and Carrera connected for layups to give Carolina a four-point lead with 7:46 to play.

Another 3 from Carmouche with 4:51 remaining saw the Tigers regain the lead at 65-64. Jackson converted the second half of a two-free throw opportunities shortly after to match the Tigers’ 65, but Hickey connected on an acrobatic lay-up at the opposite end to see LSU hold a 67-65 upperhand at the final media timeout of the half.

The Tigers extended their lead to 69-66, which forced a Gamecock timeout with 2:36 to play. Carrera hit a lay-up out of the timeout for a two-point LSU advantage, and the Tigers failed to convert on the ensuing possession.

Williams was at the line for two attempts with 1:16 to play, hitting both to knot the score at 69.

After a Gamecock timeout and possession with 43.3 seconds remaining, LSU earned a steal, but missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to send the contest to overtime.

The Gamecocks held a four-point advantage at 73-69 with 3:50 on the clock in the extra session after two free throws from Smith and a jumper from Carrera.

LSU’s Hickey posted a lay-up after a steal to pull the Tigers within two with 3:11 to play. The teams traded missed attempts through the middle part of OT before Carrera extended the Gamecocks lead to four with just under a minute to play.

LSU missed a 3-point attempt at the opposite end and Carrera connected on two free throws with 39.1 seconds remaining to push the Carolina lead to 76-71.

The Tigers missed another attempt from beyond the arc late in OT and clutch free throw shooting from Carrera down the stretch saw the Gamecocks close the first SEC win for head coach Frank Martin, 82-73.

South Carolina returns to Colonial Life Arena on Saturday to host Vanderbilt at 1:47 p.m. ET with the contest set to be televised on the SEC Network.

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