D'Angelo Harrison continued his torrid early-season shooting pace, and St. John's length and athleticism on defense simply were too much for South Carolina as the Red Storm routed the Gamecocks, 89-65, as part of the Big East-SEC challenge Thursday night at Carnesecca Arena.
The game was overshadowed by a frightening accident that sent South Carolina's Brenton Williams to the hospital with a neck injury. Williams collided with 6-9, 223-pound St. John's post man Chris Obekpa, who fell on top of the 5-11 guard with 13:34 left in the first half.
Obekpa remained on top of Williams for a considerable time before getting up. After the game, he explained it was because of the pain in both wrists from breaking the fall.
There was a lengthy delay as medics put Williams' neck in a brace and lifted him onto a gurney using a back board.
"The trainers told me he never lost feeling in his extremities," South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "He had movement in his extremities and pain in his neck.
"When you're dealing with a neck, that news is God-sent."
About an hour after the game, according to The Associated Press, South Carolina announced that Williams had been released from the hospital and would travel home with the team.
The Red Storm (5-2) held a 10-point lead when Williams was injured, and it grew to 27 at 79-52 when Harrison left the game after a three-point play pushed his point total to 26. It was the sixth time he has reached 20 points this season.
Near the end, the Storm went ahead by 28 points. St. John's shot 60 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range.
Amir Garrett totaled 15 points and 11 rebounds, Phil Greene had 13 points and JaKarr Sampson added 11. Obekpa had eight points and three blocked shots, and Felix Balamou matched those totals and had three steals.
Michael Carrera topped the Gamecocks (5-2) with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Williams had 10 points before suffering his injury. South Carolina shot 36.9 percent overall and 21.7 percent from three-point range.
Asked if his team had trouble focusing on the game after the injury, Martin said, "We were disheartened, and that's how we played the rest of the game. Shame on us. We should have figured out a way to make [Williams] proud because he gave us energy at the start of the second half.''
The Red Storm's two additions from Our Savior New American high school in Centereach, starting guard Balamou and backup post man Obekpa, sparked a terrific defensive effort.
"That's the beauty of shot-blocking," Martin said. "Guys don't want to come inside. We got discouraged."
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