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LSU's Justin Hamilton hit clutch free throws to hold of the Gamecocks.
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Third-Straight Win Lifts Tigers to 6-6 in SEC
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Published: February 18, 2012, 02:43 PM (CT)
Updated: February 18, 2012, 08:20 PM (CT)

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Justin Hamilton scored 18 points and Storm Warren added 12 to lead LSU to its fourth win in five games, 68-58, over South Carolina on Saturday.

The Tigers (16-10, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) saw their 11-point lead slip to 56-52 after Malik Cooke's consecutive 3-pointers with 4:07 to play. But Hamilton put back Warren's miss and a South Carolina turnover led to Ralston Turner's third three to give the Tigers back their comfortable margin.

The Gamecocks had no answer for LSU's inside game. The 7-foot Hamilton hit five of his eight shots while Warren made six of 10 shots, most from close in. Johnny O'Bryant III, a 6-9 freshman, made four of five baskets in the second half.

Cooke had 17 points for the Gamecocks (10-16, 2-10).

LSU had a seven-point lead cut to 38-36 when South Carolina freshman Brenton Williams was called for a technical for hanging on the rim after his breakaway dunk. Andre Stringer made two foul shots and O'Bryant had three consecutive inside baskets to push LSU ahead. After Stringer hit a jumper and O'Bryant another uncontested shot inside, the Tigers were ahead 50-39.

Anthony Hickey had 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds for LSU.

No one else on South Carolina reached double figures. Bruce Ellington, the team's second leading scorer, was only 3-of-12 shooting for six points -- four fewer than his average.

LSU and South Carolina both hoped to capitalize on recent success after awful starts to the SEC season.

The Tigers began 2-5 in the league, yet have won three of their last four including a 69-67 overtime win against Mississippi State this past Tuesday. The Gamecocks, who opened 1-9 in the league, broke a five-game losing streak last Wednesday night, 57-56, against Georgia and were looking for their first two-game SEC win streak since January 2011.

Neither club was all that sharp in in the opening period.

South Carolina hit three of its first nine shots as LSU moved in front 15-8. Then the Tigers went cold for nearly seven minutes and the Gamecocks moved in front 20-17 off a 12-2 surge.

LSU found its range late as freshman point guard Anthony Hickey pushed the pace. He hit a tying 3-pointer, then fed a wide-open Storm Warren for an easy bucket underneath. Justin Hamlton converted two foul shots and Hickey closed the 8-2 run with a foul shot of his own to put LSU ahead 25-22 at the break.

Still, the Tigers were just 4 of 15 from the field the half's final 14 minutes after hitting five of their first eight shots.

Ellington struggled in the opening period as he made just one of his six attempts. South Carolina was 1 of 8 from three-point range.

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