COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Frank Martin preached to his team they were going to need to pound the ball inside to find success against Oral Roberts.
It took a half but it finally started clicking. Senior Laimonas Chatkevicius had a career-high 27 points and Duane Noticed chipped in 18 as South Carolina withstood 31 points from Obi Emegano to defeat Oral Roberts 84-66 Monday night.
''We settled, got off the dribble jump shots at the beginning of the game and that's exactly what we said not to do,'' Martin said. ''Get the ball inside to start the game is all we talked about. But we settled down and the second half we really, really got that thing inside.''
It was the play of Chatkevicius and Notice early in the second half that gave the Gamecocks the advantage. The duo combined to score 19 of the first 30 second half points and did it in a variety of ways.
Chatkevicius made just his 12th career three-pointer and Notice hit two more from long range in the opening minutes of the period. Notice scored on a stick back basket then added two free throws after ORU Coach Scott Sutton picked up a technical foul.
Eric Cobb scored on the next possession to give the Gamecocks a 57-44 lead that was never less than 12 points the rest of the way.
Chatkevicius, whose previous career-high was 18 points, added another three-pointer to cap his evening. Mindaugas Kacinas finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
''Laimonas has worked real hard on his conditioning and that has allowed him to stay in the game,'' Martin said.
Chatkevicius scored 19 of his points in the second half.
''They guys on the team got me the ball,'' the 6-foot-11 native of Klaipeda, Lithuania said. ''I was there to work for it but they shared the ball. It was a whole team effort.''
Oral Roberts (1-1) built a 28-21 first half lead on the strength of Emegano's 16 first half points. He was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line in the first half as he continuously got South Carolina defenders to leave their feet. That caused starters Michael Carerra and PJ Dozier to each play less than six minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls. Emegano tied his career-high but didn't shoot a free throw in the second half.
South Carolina (2-0) had trouble solving the Golden Eagles zone defense in the early going. They started by connecting on 8-of-28 from the field that included 1-for-10 stretch when Oral Roberts built its seven-point lead. But the Gamecocks closed the final 3:15 of the half on a 12-2 run to take a 33-30 lead at the break.
''Give them credit, they just whipped us,'' Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said. ''Coach Martin's teams have always been tough and they take pride in their toughness. I told our guys we needed to match their intensity and toughness and for the last part of the first half and the entire second half we did a very poor job of that.''
Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles, picked third in the Summit League, were looking for their first win over a current member of the SEC since the 2009-10 season when they toppled Missouri, who was in the Big 12 at the time.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks scored 24-straight points and 28 of the final 29 by front court players in the second half. After shooting 31.4 percent in the first half, they shot 47.4 in the second half. They also dominated the glass with 19 offensive rebounds to just 4 for Oral Roberts. That led to a 25-6 advantage on second chance points
Oral Roberts plays UT Martin in the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic on Friday
South Carolina will face DePaul on Friday in the Paradise Jam at St. Thomas Virgin Islands