Gamecocks suffer second straight loss to small school

South Carolina suffered its second loss of the week to a team from a mid-major conference, falling 64-63 to visiting Tennessee State on Sunday.

TSU’s Robert Covington scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds and the Tigers of the Ohio Valley Conference hung on for a 64-63 upset of South Carolina.

Patrick Miller added 11 points for the Tigers (2-2), who led by as many as 22 points in the second half before South Carolina staged a furious rally.

The Gamecocks shot 52 percent in the second half (17-of-33) after managing just five field goals in the opening 20 minutes.

Eric Smith’s fifth 3-pointer pulled South Carolina to within 64-62 with 1:11 to play. R.J. Slawson had a chance to tie the game after being fouled with seven seconds left, but his second free throw rattled out.

Smith finished with a career-high 18 points, but it wasn’t enough to help the Gamecocks (1-2) avoid a second straight demoralizing loss. South Carolina, picked to finish last in the SEC, was stunned by Elon on Tuesday.

The Gamecocks were among the worst offensive teams in the nation last season, and their shooting woes have been intensified by the absence of their leading returning scorer — point guard Bruce Ellington, who chose to play football this season. They were held to 23 percent (5-of-21) shooting in the first half and trailed 33-19 at the break.

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