Indianapolis Star
National Basketball Association
Liberty 78, South Carolina 62
When: 4:00 PM ET, Saturday, November 28, 2020
Where: T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, Missouri
Officials: # Terry Oglesby, # K.B. Burdett, # Mike Roberts
Attendance: N/A

Liberty caught fire midway through the first half Saturday and South Carolina never recovered, resulting in a 78-62 defeat for the Gamecocks in their season debut in the first game of the Hall of Fame Classic at Kansas City, Mo.

Kyle Rode scored 18 points, and Elijah Cuffee and Keegan McDowell added 13 apiece in the win for the Flames (2-1).

McDowell went 5 of 6 from the floor, including 3 of 4 on 3-pointers. The Flames hit 11 of 26 behind the arc and shot 56.3 percent from the field for the game, including 60 percent in the second half.

On Sunday, Liberty will play in the tournament's championship game against TCU, which defeated Tulsa 70-65 later Saturday. South Carolina will face the Golden Hurricane.

AJ Lawson led South Carolina (0-1) with 12 points, including two of the team's three 3-pointers for the game. The Gamecocks were 3 of 17 from long range and shot just 39 percent from the floor.

Both teams struggled in the early going, but Liberty pulled out of the doldrums about midway through the first half.

The Gamecocks trailed only 17-16 after a dunk by Keyshawn Bryant, but the Flames went on a 16-2 run, capped by a driving layup by McDowell with 4:29 left in the half to lead 33-18.

Liberty shot 53.6 percent in the first half, including 8 of 17 on 3-pointers, while South Carolina struggled all half long at 33.3 percent overall and 18.2 percent (2 of 11) behind the arc.

Blake Preston hit a hook shot to push the Flames' lead to 17 at 41-24 with 1:20 left in the half, and it was still 17 at the half, 43-26.

A free throw by Rode just 90 seconds into the second half give the Flames an 18-point lead at 47-29.

Seventh Woods hit a pull-up jumper to get the Gamecocks to within 54-40 with 14:43 left in the game, but baskets by Rode and Drake Dobbs pushed the lead back to 18, and South Carolina never got within 14 again.

Chris Parker finished with 12 points and five assists, and Darius McGhee chipped in 10 points. Rode added six rebounds.

Bryant added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Gamecocks.

--Field Level Media

Top Game Performances
South Carolina   Liberty
A.J. Lawson 12 Scoring Kyle Rode 18
Trae Hannibal 2 Assists Chris Parker 5
Keyshawn Bryant 7 Rebounds Keegan McDowell 6
Keyshawn Bryant 4 Free Throws Made Kyle Rode 8
A.J. Lawson 3 Steals Kyle Rode 2
Jalyn McCreary 1 Blocks Blake Preston 2
Team Stats Summary
Team Points FG% 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals Turnovers
South Carolina 62 39.0 3-17 13-19 7 26 2 7 13
Liberty 78 56.2 11-26 13-18 16 27 4 3 14