COLUMBIA, S.C. – Brian Richardson and Lakeem Jackson scored 17 points each as South Carolina rebounded from its first home loss of the season with a 91-56 victory over South Carolina State on Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks (9-4) used a 24-3 run to blitz the Bulldogs (4-9) of the MEAC at the end of the first half and took a 44-22 lead into the break. South Carolina, in its final nonconference game, then opened the second half on a 20-11 spurt in the first five minutes to record their largest margin of victory of the season.
South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said the stretch that ended the first half and opened the second was key.
"We didn't think we were playing bad at that point," Horn said. "We told them to keep running, keep sharing the ball, keep going to the glass and defensively keep guarding and limit them to one shot. Keep doing that over, over and over and we focused on that and had a good run there."
Sam Muldrow chipped in with 15 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high six blocks for the Gamecocks and Bruce Ellington added 13 points.
The effort of Muldrow and Richardson was a spark that was missing in South Carolina's 15-point loss to Boston College on New Year's Day. Muldrow was held scoreless against the Eagles with only one rebound. But he was 6-for-11 from the field, including one of the Gamecocks' 10 3-pointers.
Richardson, a freshman from Wilson, N.C., came into the game 1 for 15 from the 3-point line in his last two games and missed his first two attempts against the Bulldogs before catching fire in the second half. He made five in a row before missing one in the final minute.
"I was just trying to get my confidence back, getting ready to go into (SEC) play," Richardson said. "I've been kind of down so I just had to keep plugging."
Horn said he was never worried about Richardson.
"Shooters are shooters," Horn said. "I wasn't real worried about Brian. Maybe he just needed one to go in and feel just right."
South Carolina finished with 15 blocked shots, one off the school record. The Gamecocks also shot a season-high 53.2 percent from the field (33 of 62).
"I didn't expect them to shoot as well as they did from the perimeter," S.C. State coach Tim Carter said.
Darnell Porter led the Bulldogs with 16 points.
The Gamecocks open Southeast Conference play on Saturday at home against Vanderbilt. South Carolina State saw its losing streak reach five and will host Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday.