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January 18, 2006

Kelley's treys K.O. Vandy

NASHVILLE - Tre Kelley, averaging just 10.7 points coming into Wednesday night's game against Vanderbilt, hit six three-pointers and a game-winning layup in scoring 29 points, leading visiting South Carolina to a 66-64 overtime win over the Commodores. The victory is the Gamecocks' fifth in their last six trips to Nashville and their 16th in the last 20 overall against Vanderbilt.

A Memorial Gym crowd of 12,433 left in silence after watching the Commodores blow two double-digit leads before Kelley's game-winning bucket. Vandy's Mario Moore had just hit a three-pointer that rolled around the rim several times before settling into the net with 0:19 to play. But then, Kelley drove the length of the floor and after heading down the right side of the foul lane, lofted a bank shot over two Commodore defenders that went in and made Carolina a winner.

Earlier, Vanderbilt took a comfortable 28-17 lead at half when Shan Foster beat the buzzer and buried a three-pointer from the left side.

But Carolina stormed out of the locker room, scoring 18 points in the half's first 5:27 and later taking the lead when Dwayne Day slammed home a wide-open dunk to give USC a 37-35 lead with 12:16 remaining.

Vandy answered, and eventually went back up by 11 when Foster's three made it 57-46 with 5:39 left. But the Commodores then scored just two points through the rest of regulation, then missed four foul shots in the game's final minute - two by DeMarre Carroll, one by Foster, and one by Alex Gordon - that could have won the game. Meanwhile, South Carolina's Brandon Wallace hit a three-pointer with 17 seconds in regulation to send the game to overtime that preceded Derrick Byars' missed a game-winning attempt from the right side of the key.

The first three minutes of overtime were scoreless until Kelley's three at the 1:55 mark broke the deadlock. Foster hit a jumper from the left side for Vandy to cut the margin to one, and after Kelley hit two free throws, Moore's three-pointer tied the game and set the stage for Kelley's game-winner.

"To be able to come back and play like that in the second half I think speaks volumes about where our club is right now," said South Carolina Coach Dave Odom afterwards. "They still believe they can play well, they believe they can win, they believe they can win on the road, they believe they can beat quality teams like Vanderbilt."

A dejected Kevin Stallings had a slightly different take.

"It's a long season, but that was one that obviously shouldn't have gotten away from us," said Vandy's coach moments after defeat. "But you have to execute, and you have to make free throws, and you have to take care of the ball and make layups and you have to defend."

Vanderbilt lost a golden opportunity to stay near Eastern Division leader Florida in the standings. After a 2-0 start in SEC play, the Commodores dropped to 2-2 in league play with a home game scheduled Saturday against Mississippi State.

South Carolina, losers of their first three in league play, improved to 10-7 overall.



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