COLUMBIA, S.C. (University of South Carolina Sports Information) - In South Carolina's only exhibition game before opening up the season on Nov. 9, the Gamecocks used a pair of first half runs fueled by its defense to take hold a 17-point first-lead before ultimately defeating USC Aiken 84-72. Sophomore guard Michael Carrera led the Gamecocks with 14 points, while sophomore forward Laimonas Chatkevicius added a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
South Carolina jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead just over two minutes into the game after a jumper from freshman guard Duane Notice. The Pacers though tied it up a minute and a half later on a bucket from senior guard Jesse Seilern and pushed the lead to 9-7 after a 3-pointer from Seilern at the 15:03 mark.
From that point on, the Gamecocks picked up their pressure on the defensive end that resulted in a 10-1 run that was capped off by Carrera turning over Aiken's DeVontae Wright in the backcourt and taking the ball the length of the court for a two-handed dunk.
Wright came back and connected on a 3 on the right side to end a two and half minute drought that saw the Pacers forced into six missed attempts.
Wright's basket was the last for the Pacers for almost seven minutes. After a pair of free throws from the senior guard cut the game to two at the 9:30 mark, South Carolina went on a 16-1 run that started with a dunk from Chatkevicius. Over two minutes later, Notice found Carrera open on the left side as the sophomore marksman drained the triple to push the lead to nine.
Five free throws and buckets from Notice and fellow freshman Demetrius Henry pushed the lead to 33-16. During the near four and a half minute stretch, the Gamecocks forced the Pacers into 12 missed field goal attempts.
With under a minute remaining in the half. Thornwell turned over Aiken, flipped the ball to Notice who found Carrera on the end in transition for an easy dunk, but Seilern's third 3 of the half for the Pacers with five seconds left made it a 17-point game.
After holding USC Aiken to 21 percent shooting in the first half, the Pacers caught fire midway through the second half. With a 62-47 South Carolina lead at the second media timeout at 11:49, USC Aiken went 6-of-10 from the floor to go with four free throws in less than four minutes. After Chatkevicius added a free throw for Carolina at 9:54, the Pacers went on a 13-0 run in under two minutes, highlighted by three-straight 3-pointers from senior guard Ronald Zimmerman. Senior forward Paul Larsen's layup with eight minutes remaining cut the lead to three at 65-62.
The defensive intensity picked back up for the Gamecocks as they went on a 16-2 run over the next 5-plus minutes, primarily at the free-throw line to put the game away.
The run was keyed by senior guard Brenton Williams who hit a big 3 for the Gamecocks to push the lead back up to six with under seven minutes remaining.
To go with Carrera's 14 and Chatkevicius' 10, Thornwell and Williams were also in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Aiken's Seilern led all scores with 18.
The Gamecocks open up the 2013-14 season on Nov. 9 as they host Longwood at 1 p.m.