Wednesday , Mar , 29 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Gamecocks advance to second straight NIT final

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Renaldo Balkman scored 23 points and Tarence
Kinsey added 21 points, as South Carolina moved a step closer to a successful
defense of its NIT title with a 78-63 victory over Louisville.

Brandon Wallace had 19 points for the Gamecocks (22-15), who will face
Michigan in the championship game on Thursday. The Wolverines battered Old
Dominion, 66-43, in Tuesday’s other semifinal at Madison Square Garden.

The Gamecocks, who shot 60 percent from the field, are trying to become just
the second team to repeat as NIT champions, joining St. John’s in 1943 and

Taquan Dean posted 21 points and Terrence Williams added 16 for the Cardinals
(21-13), who made 43.6 percent of their field goal tries.

The nine straight wins by South Carolina in the NIT equals the tournament
record. The last Gamecocks loss in the NIT was against Memphis in the 2002
championship. South Carolina has made it to the NIT Final Four in its last
three appearances, including a 60-57 NIT title game win in 2005 over Saint

Louisville actually bolted to an 11-2 lead, with Williams drilling a three-
pointer to end the early run. However, the Gamecocks scored the next 12 points
to go ahead.

The Cardinals regained the upperhand later in the half, extending to a 26-20
lead following a layup from Juan Palacios. South Carolina then went on a game-
changing spurt, a 17-2 blitz, and it was 42-32 at the half.

A three-pointer by Williams, nearly three minutes into the second half, drew
Louisville within 48-41, but the Gamecocks responded with a 10-1 spurt to put
the game away.

Game Notes

South Carolina is 13-1 in the NIT under head coach Dave Odom…This was South
Carolina’s first game against Louisville since the Gamecocks joined the SEC 15
years ago. The two met up at least twice a year when they were members of the
now extinct Metro Conference (1983-91)…Odom is one win shy of 100 at South
Carolina…Tre’ Kelley had seven points and 10 assists for the
Gamecocks…Balkman also had four blocks.