MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – South Carolina used a 20-5 first-half run to blow the game open, and cruised to an 80-56 victory over UTEP in round two of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Friday at Myrtle Beach.
UTEP (1-2) fell behind 7-2 early and never led. The Miners were down nine (21-12) after Keith Frazier hit a jumper with 13:12 remaining in the half. About eight minutes later, it was 41-20 in favor of the Gamecocks (3-1) following the 20-5 spurt.
UTEP got the deficit to 19 with 3:19 left in the period on a three-pointer by Frazier. South Carolina increased its lead to 26 (50-24) at halftime and led by as many as 32 points over the final 20 minutes.
The Miners turned it over 23 times, leading to 26 points for the Gamecocks.
“They just paralyzed us with their pressure, which they do to most teams,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “They got out and overplayed us, and we just couldn’t make basketball plays. We couldn’t drive and kick, we wanted to approach it with multiple drive-and-kicks in the first half and the drive either became a turnover, which we had 16 in the first half, or it became a quick launch bad shot. We got settled down a little bit in the second half, we were able to play through Matt [Willms] and get some things established on the post. But the offensive play led to the 50 points in the first half.”
Willms led the Miners with 18 points and six rebounds. Omega Harris added 10 points.
Chris Silva (15 points), Maik Kotsar (14), Justin Minaya (14) and Kory Holden (11) all scored in double figures for South Carolina. The Gamecocks shot slightly better than the Miners (46.6 percent to 42.2 percent), but made eight three-point field goals (five in the first half) and outrebounded UTEP 36-27.
The Gamecocks had a 14-4 edge in second chance points, and 13-2 in fast break points.
“They really moved the ball well against our zone,” Floyd said. “It seemed like when we decided to go zone, we had a lot of young guys in the lineup. Tirus [Smith], Trey [Wade] and one of our freshman point guards out there and our (zone) doesn’t like quite as good. Nothing looks quite as good with the youth as it does with the older players early. We just decided when the game got out of hand we’re going to go man, work on our man and try to get it better. We need to practice. I don’t think I could rest real good without a practice.”
The Miners will conclude play in the tournament by facing either Appalachian State or Western Michigan in the seventh-place game on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. MT. The game will be streamed on ESPN3.