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No. 10 South Carolina 90, South Carolina St. 85

December 24, 1997

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ BJ McKie scored a career-high 32 points and outplayed his high-school rival Roderick ``Moo Moo″ Blakney to carry No. 10 South Carolina to a 90-85 victory over South Carolina State on Tuesday night.

The Gamecocks (7-1) continued their best start in six seasons without point guard Melvin Watson, who sprained his right knee eight minutes into the game. That’s when McKie, bothered by a bad ankle, took control.

McKie led a 20-9 run that put South Carolina up by 17 points.

Blakney, who missed his first eight shots, scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half to shoot the Bulldogs (1-4) back in it. But McKie’s crisp passes, timely steals and four free throws in the final two minutes saved South Carolina.

McKie glided from the left corner, hung in the air and reversed the ball for a layup, then fed Florida transfer LeRon Williams for two slams. When McKie made three foul shots with eight minutes left, South Carolina was up 73-58.

Blakney followed with two straight three-point plays to cut South Carolina’s lead to 75-67 with 5:07 left. Two more baskets by Blakney got it down to five points, and his pass to Tyler Brown for a 3-pointer made it 83-79. But the Bulldogs, who lost at North Carolina State 68-67 last Saturday, got no closer.

Brown finished with 25 points for the Bulldogs, whose tough early schedule includes Duke, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Clemson.

South Carolina State turned the game into a physical contest, pounding with the defending Southeastern Conference champs throughout the second half. But four of their players, including starters Raheem Waller, Bryan Neis and Jimmy Burnett, ended up fouling out.

South Carolina was 34-of-50 from the foul line.

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