Freshman Keyshawn Bryant scored a game-high 21 points off the bench as the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the visiting USC Upstate Spartans 65-52 on Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks won despite shooting 32.8 percent from the floor, including 0 for 18 on 3-pointers.
Gamecocks coach Frank Martin’s son Brandon, a 6-foot-6 freshman forward for USC Upstate, made his college debut with six points off the bench. He made 2 of 3 shots, including a 3-pointer.
Bryant, also a 6-6 forward, shot 8 of 12 from the floor and added seven rebounds.
He was one of three key players who made their debuts with the Gamecocks. Freshman guard A.J. Lawson scored nine points, and Tre Campbell, a graduate transfer from Georgetown, added three points. Both Lawson and Campbell started.
The Gamecocks, who made it to the NCAA Final Four in 2016-17 but went just 17-16 last season, opened their 111th season with their 82nd win on opening night. They haven’t lost a season opener since 2000.
USC Upstate, which also opened its season, was led by forward Malik Moore’s team-high 16 points. Dave Dickerson made his debut as USC Upstate’s coach.
The Gamecocks, who ranked 344th in the nation in field-goal percentage last season, got 11 points and 11 rebounds from first-team All-SEC senior forward Carlos Silva. Even so, Silva shot 1 of 8 from the floor, missing his first seven shots.
Gamecocks 6-2 senior Hassani Gravett came off the bench and provided a game-high 12 rebounds.
USC Upstate got off to a hot start and had a 9-2 lead before the Gamecocks recovered. Bryant scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half while also grabbing six rebounds.
His efforts sparked a 20-0 Gamecocks run as South Carolina went into intermission with a 30-22 lead.
Moore led all scorers at the half with 10 points. But the Gamecocks grabbed 24 rebounds to just 17 for USC Upstate. The Gamecocks also had a 7-3 edge on steals. Those numbers helped negate poor Gamecocks shooting: 33.3 percent in the first half, including 0 for 8 on 3-pointers.
—Field Level Media