COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Renaldo Balkman scored a career-high 28
points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lift South Carolina past Alabama
67-56 on Tuesday.
Balkman was virtually unstoppable in leading the Gamecocks
(14-10, 5-6) to their third consecutive victory. He grabbed
rebounds on both ends of the court, and his defense and hustle lead
to some easy baskets for South Carolina.
Tre Kelley, who had been averaging nearly 20 points in his past
two games, was shutout in the opening period, going 0-for-5 from
the floor. But his first points with 14:44 left in the second half
ignited a 12-1 run and the Gamecocks kept Alabama (14-9, 7-4) at
bay the rest of the way.
Kelley hit two 3s during the run and his steal and assist to
Rocky Trice for an easy layup brought the crowd to its feet,
putting the Gamecocks ahead 45-32 with 12:01 remaining. Kelley
finished with 12 points.
Alabama, which had won three straight and seven of their last
nine, got as close as nine late in the game, but South Carolina
held off any potential rally.
Every time it seemed like the Tide were going to make a run,
Balkman and the rest of the Gamecocks stepped up.
The junior had a sensational first half, including 11 rebounds,
nine points and three steals. And he picked up right where he left
off in the second half with five quick points, including his second
3 of the night.
His aggressiveness on the offensive glass during one South
Carolina possession in the opening half garnered him two rebounds
before hitting an easy bucket.
Later in the second half, he grabbed an offensive board while
falling out of bounds and called a time-out, allowing South
Carolina to kill more time off the clock.