The Pirates controlled the glass, 45-31, and forced USC to take perimeter jump shots against their zone, especially in the second half. ECU (4-6) forced the Gamecocks into a poor shooting night,. USC made just 36 percent of its shots (18-50) and shot a miserable 1-for-14 from behind the arc.
The Gamecocks pounded the ball inside during the first half, scoring all 10 of its field goals in the paint and winning the battle of the boards. ECU responded in the second half by playing a collapsing zone and swiping the glass 32 times, compared to just 13 second half rebounds by USC.
The game began as a back-and-forth contest before South Carolina opened a nine-point lead with 4:02 left before halftime, 28-19. ECU responded by scoring the final eight points of the half and cut the Gamecocks' lead to one at intermission, beind a pair of threes from sophomore Mike Cook, who was benched to start the game for arriving late to the pregame meal.
The Pirates took the lead at the 15:28 mark of the second half and didn't trail again until the clock dipped under three minutes remaining in the game. ECU (4-6) held a five-point lead with 8:38 remaining, 45-40, and held the lead until Rocky Trice stole the ball and dished to Carlos Powell for cutting layup on the other end with 2:56 left, 51-49. USC (6-2) retained the lead the remainder of the contest.
Cook poured in a career-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-5 from three-point range. Junior Corey Rouse recorded double figure rebounds for the fifth time this season, grabbing 13 rebounds for a second consecutive game.
Tarence Kinsey led the Gamecocks with 13 points, while Powell scored 12 points.