NCAA Tournament: Pacers Cage Bears In First Round

NCAA Tournament: Pacers Cage Bears In First Round

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The No. 17 and third-seeded University of South Carolina Aiken men's basketball team defeated sixth-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne 84 -71 Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Pacers are now 27-5 on the season.

Head coach Mark Vanderslice's team was led by Xzavier Barmore's game-high 31 points. Ty'lik Evans notched a double-double with 21 points and 10 boards while Doniel Dean came off the bench to hit for 13 markers.

Faison Brock added seven points and six rebounds in the victory.

USC Aiken fell behind 8-2 in the opening moments of the game, but a three-ball by Myles Washington knotted the contest at 14-14 at the 12:03 mark. Down 17-14, Evans hit a step-back three-point shot. Evans quickly fired another shot from distance for a 20-17 advantage.

Tied at 20-20, Robert Hill hit a pair of charity tosses for a 22-20 score. Brock snagged a defensive rebound before Dean sliced across the lane for a jumper. Barmore and Jules hit back-to-back shots and Dean hit one-of-two from the charity stripe. Jules hit a free throw, completing the 10-0 run while giving the visitors a 30-20 advantage.

The Bears made a pair of free throws before Evans connected on a pair of shots from 30-feet out for a 36-22 margin. After a free throw by L-R, Barmore drained a 25-foot shot for a 39-23 advantage at the break.

Vanderslice's team closed the first half on a 19-3 run. During the first 20 minutes of play, Barmore led the way with 14 points while Evans had 12. The dyad was five-for-10 from downtown in the first stanza.

L-R pulled within seven points on a pair of occasions, with the last time coming at 57-50. However, Evans answered with a shot from downtown. Leading 64-54, Barmore juked his defender, stepped back and drilled a wing three-point shot with 5:11 to play for a 67-54 lead.

Barmore's floater in the lane extended the score to 69-57. Leading 69-62, Barmore broke through the press, raced past all five Bears and laid it in for a nine-point margin with just under three minutes to go.

The Pacers return to action tomorrow in the NCAA Southeast Regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Live stats and video will be available at PacerSports.com.