Transfer propels Pacers to victory

NO. 5 USC AIKEN 78, FRANCIS MARION 67
Myles Holley, who transferred to USC Aiken from Nebraska, scored a season-high 22 points with five blocks as the Pacers won their Peach Belt Conference opener.

AIKEN --- Myles Holley last measured his vertical leap in high school.

The USC Aiken junior forward recorded a jump of 47 inches. On Wednesday night, he proved his vertical leap might have grown since his days as a prep star.

Holley soared all around and over the basket, blocking shots and throwing down dunks to the tune of a season-high 22 points as the fifth-ranked Pacers pulled away late for a 78-67 win over Francis Marion at the convocation center.

"The guy can flat out fly," USC Aiken coach Vince Alexander said. "I've seen him do things where he's looking down on the rim."

Holley, who transferred from Nebraska, had his best game of the season. With the contest in the balance late, he scored eight points and blocked four shots the final four minutes.

Holley's performance came at a critical time for USC Aiken (5-0, 1-0) in its Peach Belt Conference opener.

The Pacers came out sluggish and allowed the Patriots (5-2, 0-1) to loiter throughout the second half.

Francis Marion, which entered averaging a league-best 90.3 points a game, snatched the lead away at 63-62 on a Dominique Coleman 3-pointer with 4:45 remaining. Coleman scored a team-high 21 points for the Patriots.

The Pacers soon grabbed the lead back and didn't let go. Sterling Council knocked down a 15-foot jumper.

Later, Holley added three free throws in a 43-second span. Byron Faison added a steal and fast-break layup.

Holley closed out the Patriots. He swished a 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining to give the Pacers a 72-64 lead. Then, he blocked three shots in the final minute.

"Coach basically looked at us and told us to pick it up," Holley said. "He said we were playing like crap."

USC Aiken shot 49 percent from the field, but converted just 11 of 19 free-throw attempts.

The Pacers were even with the Patriots in rebounding (36-all) and committed 16 turnovers.

USC Aiken twice opened up a nine-point lead in the first half only to lead 40-35 at the break. The Pacers went up 50-42 on an Alvin Brown three-point play with 13:15 lead, but they couldn't pull away.

"We just came out flat," said Faison, who scored nine points. "They were ready to hit us in the mouth. We responded in the end."

USC Aiken forced 22 turnovers, held Francis Marion to 39 percent shooting and allowed one field goal the final four minutes.

And Holley, with his sky-high effort, helped the Pacers keep alive their undefeated season.

More