GREENVILLE | Plenty of Furman fans held up their cell phones to take pictures of the scoreboard at Timmons Arena on Wednesday night.
They were shooting something not seen in 30 years — a victory against South Carolina.
An experienced Paladin team outmuscled, outrebounded and outshot a young Gamecocks squad in a 91-75 victory.
South Carolina (7-3) lost its third straight road game to an instate Southern Conference foe in three years. Furman (8-2) tied their best start in 23 years.
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USC nearly pressed and trapped its way back into the game in the second half, cutting the lead to three, but Furman was able to break the pressure for easy shots.
A three-basket, six-point spurt in 17 seconds by the Paladins (8-2) with under two minutes left in the game ended USC’s comeback chances.
“The problem was we dug ourselves too big a hole,” Horn said. “We seemed a little stagnant offensively (in the first half). I didn’t think our offensive rebounding effort was where it needed to be.”
After outrebounding its first six opponents, USC lost the battle of the boards for the third time in four games, this time by a margin of 44-26.
Just as USC’s guards were not on their game in Columbus, Ohio, the Gamecock forwards struggled in Greenville. USC’s six forwards combined for 16 points as the Gamecocks were outscored in the paint 40-26.
Horn said the team needed a better game out of forward Sam Muldrow; it was not the first time this season the coach wanted more dominant play from the team veteran. The 6-foot-9 senior finished with six points, two rebounds and two blocks.
“I have to play well for our team to win,” Muldrow said.
Freshman guard Bruce Ellington came off his worst game in the loss at Ohio State to score a career-high 31 points against Furman. He scored 20 in the second half, including three straight 3-pointers that cut the Paladins’ lead to three with less than 11 minutes to go.
But after a travel call on Furman on the next possession, Ellington misfired an attempted alley-oop to Lakeem Jackson. Horn thought Jackson might have been bumped, but the play seemed to take away some of the USC’s momentum. Furman extended the lead to 11 soon after.
“This is a team that is learning a lot right now,” Horn said. “We had maybe our three best days of practice in a row with everybody being good with our focus and our energy, but you still got to go out and do it in the game. Our youth showed a little bit of that tonight.”
Ellington said Horn told the team after the game that “they worked harder than us.”
Frank McGuire was coaching his final season (1980) the last time the Gamecocks lost to Furman. USC had won 12 straight against the Paladins — including two 24-point wins under Horn at home in 2008 and 2009.
Horn’s teams have struggled on the road against instate competition. USC lost at College of Charleston in 2008 and at Wofford and Clemson last year.
The Gamecocks have lost two straight games this season after winning six in a row.
Furman has experienced a turnaround this season under coach Jeff Jackson, a former Vanderbilt assistant.
“It’s a team that if I tell them to do something, they can actually carry it out now,” he said.
Guard Justin Dehm sparked the Paladins’ first-half surge by coming off the bench to tally five 3-pointers. Furman lead 41-33 at the half. Amu Saaka led the Paladins with 20 points, including a school-record 14-for-14 from the free-throw line. The team’s second-leading scorer, Noah States, sat out the game with a strained groin.
In the Hoop
USC finished its non-conference road schedule at 1-3. The Gamecocks went 0-3 in true road games a year ago. The Gamecocks begin their Christmas break today and will return to practice Sunday night. They finish their non-conference schedule with three home games against Jacksonville State on Wednesday, Boston College on New Year’s Day and S.C. State on Jan. 4.
|SOUTH CAROLINA||Min||FG M-A||FT M-A||REB O-T||A||PF||PTS|
Percentages: FG .433, FT .550.
3-Point Goals: 12-30, .400 (Ellington 6-13, Richardson 4-9, Galloway 2-5, Cooke 0-1, Smith 0-1, Muldrow 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 6 (Jefferson 3, Muldrow 2, Cooke).
Turnovers: 14 (Ellington 5, Galloway 3, Cooke 2, Spinella, Harris, Muldrow, Jefferson).
Steals: 3 (Richardson, Harris, Ellington).
Technical Fouls: None.
|FURMAN||Min||FG M-A||FT M-A||REB O-T||A||PF||PTS|
Percentages: FG .526, FT .828.
3-Point Goals: 7-15, .467 (Dehm 5-5, Miller 2-5, Evans 0-1, Ch. Reddick 0-1, Saaka 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 1 (Co. Reddick).
Turnovers: 17 (Saaka 3, Evans 3, Dehm 3, Sebirumbi 3, Miller 2, Ch. Reddick).
Steals: 7 (Evans 3, Co. Reddick, Miller, Saaka, Dehm).
Officials: Chuck Jones, Everett Summers, Robbie Robinson.