Originally created 03/31/06

South Carolina rolls to repeat



NEW YORK - South Carolina certainly didn't begin the season hoping to repeat as NIT champions.

The Gamecocks were, however, happy to end it that way and become only the second team to win consecutive NIT titles.

Tarence Kinsey scored 21 points and Tre' Kelley added 20 and seven assists to help South Carolina beat Michigan, 76-64 on Thursday night.

With four starters back from last year's NIT champs, the Gamecocks began the season with hopes to graduate to an NCAA Tournament berth this season. That didn't work out, though South Carolina (23-15) made a late run at an automatic bid before losing the Southeastern Conference title game 49-47 to Florida.

Back in the NIT, the Game-cocks made the most of it and joined St. John's, which won the NIT in 1943 and 1944, as the only teams to win back-to-back championships. Kentucky was the only other team ever to play in consecutive championship games (1946-47).

The SEC could make it a tournament sweep with Florida and Louisiana State playing the NCAA Final Four on Saturday.

Renaldo Balkman added 10 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks and was named the MVP of the tournament for South Carolina.

Daniel Horton, who was the MVP of the 2004 NIT, scored 18 points to lead Michigan (22-10), which was trying to win its second championship in three years.

Chris Hunter and Brent Petway each added 12 for Michigan, which won the title in 2004 with most of the same players who led this year's run to Madison Square Garden.

With the victory, South Carolina coach Dave Odom improved to 21-3 in the NIT and now has 100 wins with the Gamecocks. He also led Wake Forest to the title in 2000.

The Wolverines fell to 7-2 all-time in the semifinals and finals of the NIT. They also won the championship in 1984 and 1997.