Redbirds beat Gamecocks 69-65 in Puerto Rico Tip-Off - | WBTV Charlotte

Redbirds beat Gamecocks 69-65 in Puerto Rico Tip-Off

By AARON BEARD
AP Basketball Writer

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) - Milik Yarbrough had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists to help Illinois State beat South Carolina 69-65 in Thursday's opening game of the relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Keyshawn Evans added 17 points for the Redbirds (1-1), who frustrated the cold-shooting Gamecocks with their active zone defense and never trailed. Illinois State shot just 36 percent, but made 28 free throws - with 14 from Yarbrough.

Illinois State led by as many as 12 points before halftime and saw the Gamecocks rally to twice tie it before holding on down the stretch. Evans hit a free throw with 4 seconds left to make it a two-possession game and seal the win.

Hassani Gravett had 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Gamecocks (2-1), who shot just 30 percent.

The tournament was set for the coastal city of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, but damage from Hurricane Maria forced it to Coastal Carolina in Conway.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois State: The Redbirds lost a high-scoring opener with Florida Gulf Coast, but came back with a tough performance against a power-conference opponent. Yarbrough, who sat out last year as a transfer from Saint Louis, was a particularly frustrating matchup for South Carolina with his ability to attack off the dribble - which got him to the line 17 times.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks returned just a quarter of their scoring from last year's surprise Final Four team, so coach Frank Martin knew it would take some time for this group to reshape its offense. But South Carolina struggled from the tip, both from an inability to effectively attack Illinois State's zone to missing the open looks the Gamecocks did have, including going just 9 of 32 (28 percent) from behind the arc.

UP NEXT

Illinois State: The Redbirds will play the Boise State/UTEP winner in Friday's winner's bracket.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks will play the Boise State/UTEP loser in Friday's consolation bracket.

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