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January 14, 2009

Gamecocks mauled by LSU

Sometimes, it's just not your night.

South Carolina's night definitely wasn't on Wednesday.

The Gamecocks were ripped 85-68 at LSU, dropping their record to 12-3 and 1-1 in the SEC. Just a few days after beginning the league schedule with a win for the first time in seven years, USC went on the road for the first of two games and was hammered by the Tigers' Tasmin Mitchell and its own mistakes.

Mitchell scored a career-high 30 points and snared 14 rebounds, which was horrifying enough for a USC team which prides itself on sticky defense. But the Gamecocks also had 10 shots blocked, had 18 turnovers (12 steals) and committed 26 fouls.

As if it could get any worse, USC was a miserable 8-of-22 from the free throw line. The Tigers (13-3, 1-1) were 27-of-35 and never had their lead drop below 10 throughout the second half.

"We tried to do a little bit too much tonight," USC coach Darrin Horn said on the radio broadcast. "We've got to learn to let the offense come to us."

Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick tied for the team lead with 18 points each, but Downey scored most of his late and had a career-high eight turnovers. Dominique Archie had 17 points after returning from a right ankle injury that had him in the locker room for a brief spell.

Mike Holmes and Sam Muldrow each fouled out. Muldrow, in his second game back after missing USC's first 13 games, had two points, two rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 15 minutes.

LSU won its 16th straight home game and matched its win total of last year. The Tigers shot 53.5 percent and held USC to 13 points below its season average to break a two-game losing streak.

Downey hit two consecutive 3-pointers to lift USC to a 10-2 run late in the second half, cutting the lead to 62-52. But Chris Johnson took off on a fast-break layup and was fouled to end a 7-0 Tigers run that iced the game.

"When your best player and your all-conference point guard has eight turnovers, it's going to be tough on the road," Horn said. "We got off to a really poor start."

The Gamecocks travel to No. 24 Tennessee on Saturday.



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