USC Dominates UTEP 80-56

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 landed on South Carolina coach Frank Martin's foot on a sideline 3-pointer and came up grabbing his right ankle with 2:25 left.
    
BIG PICTURE
    
South Carolina: 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.
    
UP NEXT
    
South Carolina: The Gamecocks will play the Appalachian State-Western Michigan winner in Sunday's fifth-place game.
    
UTEP: The Miners will play the Appalachian State-Western Michigan loser in Sunday's seventh-place game.

Aaron Beard, Associated Press


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