COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Sindarius Thornwell scored 18 points and South Carolina cruised to an 85-76 victory over Louisiana Tech on Friday night.
Thornwell was 7 of 16 from the floor. PJ Dozier and Duane Notice added 17 points apiece for the Gamecocks, who overcame foul trouble and Louisiana Tech's trapping defense. Thornwell's steal and ensuing dunk with 2:37 left gave the Gamecocks a 10-point lead.
Trailing by 15 points early in the second half, Louisiana Tech climbed back with 3-point shooting. South Carolina began to earn more trips to the free-throw line but couldn't convert, and the Bulldogs' 3s cut the deficit to 65-61 with about eight minutes to play.
"That's when they cut it to four," South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "So we locked in and did a better job. We weren't very good today."
The teams combined for 48 fouls, and the Gamecocks made just 16 of 26 from the line. South Carolina allowed only three field goals in the final six minutes.
"I started off with a lot of turnovers and forcing a lot of stuff that wasn't there," Thornwell said. "Once I settled down, I was all right."
South Carolina: The Gamecocks were expected to lean on their guards all season and Thornwell, Dozier, and Notice lived up to the billing.
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs' press was disrupting South Carolina all evening, leading to 15 turnovers. The problem was the Bulldogs left so many points at the rim, missing several layups.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Gamecocks had 19 second-chance points to the Bulldogs' nine, using their superior height to win the rebounding total 35-29. South Carolina hauled in 25 defensive boards.
Thornwell's dunk was the second of two straight for the Gamecocks after the Bulldogs had cut the deficit to four. The first was Silva's one-hand jam, fed from Thornwell after a Louisiana Tech missed layup.
South Carolina is in a marathon sprint of three games in five days, and welcomes Holy Cross to Colonial Life Arena on Sunday.
SEC Now's Daymeon Fishback and Peter Burns break down how the Tigers may have a tough challenge ahead in Chris Silva and the Gamecocks.
SEC Now's Daymeon Fishback and Peter Burns discuss what the Tide and Wildcats will bring to the court in their upcoming game.
Dikembe Dixson scored 18 points, Jordan Blount had 14 points and 15 rebounds and Illinois-Chicago beat Green Bay 83-75 on Friday night.
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