South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins, left, and Kamilla Cardoso tussle with North Carolina’s Anya Poole, 31, and Deja Kelly in the first half in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Thursday night. Ben McKeown/Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Bree Hall scored 15 points and top-ranked South Carolina rallied from 11 down in the second quarter to push past No. 24 North Carolina 65-58 in Thursday night’s ACC/SEC Challenge.

Te-Hina Paopao added 14 points for the Gamecocks (6-0), who ended up facing their toughest challenge in an early season slate of high-scoring blowouts — including against two ranked teams. South Carolina came in ranked second nationally in scoring offense at 100.4 points and leading the country with an average victory margin of 51.6 points.

But the Gamecocks ended up in a fight to the final seconds with the Tar Heels (5-3), who got off to a quick start and then stayed within reach even after South Carolina pushed ahead midway through the third.

Paopao hit three second-half 3-pointers, and Hall added a huge one from the left wing with 2:08 left that pushed the Gamecocks to their biggest lead at 60-52.

South Carolina also got four straight free throws from Chloe Kitts and Ashlyn Watkins in the final 25 seconds to stay in control.



(13) FLORIDA ATLANTIC 83, LIBERTY 58: Alijah Martin scored 20 points and Vlad Goldin added 18 points and seven rebounds as Florida Atlantic (6-1) cruised past Liberty (6-1) in the opening game of the Field of 68 Tipoff Classic at Bocan Raton, Florida.

The Owls extended a 15-point halftime lead to 29 in the second half .

USC: Bronny James has been cleared by doctors for a full return to basketball four months after suffering a cardiac arrest, and the Southern California freshman is expected to make his collegiate debut soon.

A James family spokesperson said in a statement that the 19-year-old will have a final evaluation with USC staff this week and resume practice next week. He will be able to play in games “soon after,” it said.

UCLA: A limited-edition stamp honoring the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden will go on sale early next year.

Wooden is the second college basketball coach to be honored with a stamp, joining the game’s inventor, James Naismith, who had a stamp in 1961.


Nearly 18 million Forever stamps will be issued featuring an original portrait of the coach who guided UCLA to 10 national championships during his 27-year tenure in Westwood, which ended in 1975.

Wooden died in 2010 at age 99.

The stamp depicts Wooden at courtside in the early 1970s, focused on a game and wearing a pinstripe suit, patterned tie and black-framed glasses. The name John is in blue and Wooden is in gold in a nod to the school’s colors. The image is based on a photo by university photographer Norm Schindler.


INDIANA: The Indiana Hoosiers have hired Curt Cignetti as their new football coach. James Madison also announced Cignetti had resigned.

The 62-year-old Cignetti spent the last five seasons with the Dukes, who he led to one of the most successful transition from FCS to FBS in NCAA history.


He’s 52-9 there with three conference titles and led No. 24 James Madison to a Sun Belt East Division title this season. Cignetti replaces Tom Allen, who was fired Sunday after seven full seasons with the Hoosiers. Cignetti says “I am excited to lead this program forward and change the culture, mindset, and expectation level of Hoosier football.”

MINNESOTA DULUTH: Reed Ryan, a senior defensive lineman at the University of Minnesota Duluth, has died of a genetic heart condition, his family says.

Ryan, who was 22, died Tuesday at a Duluth hospital. His obituary said he went into cardiac arrest one week earlier following a football team workout in the weight room. Until then, no one knew about the heart condition.

SEC: The Southeastern Conference championship game will remain at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta through at least 2031 under a contract extension.

TRANSFER PORTAL: Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and his former high school and college teammate in Clemson receiver Beaux Collins announced plans to enter the transfer portal.

North Carolina State quarterback MJ Morris said he, too, will join the portal, an announcement coming less than a month after he opted out for the rest of the season to preserve his redshirt option despite being the starter.


CLEMSON: Coach Dabo Swinney is letting go of offensive line coach Thomas Austin and defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall.

Swinney announced that the two staffers would not return next season.

Hall had joined Clemson as an analyst in 2015 and was part of the program through both its national championships after the 2016 and 2018 seasons. He was promoted to defensive ends coach in 2018.

Austin was a former Clemson center who joined the staff as analyst in 2021 and took over the offensive line the next season when Robbie Caldwell moved to another role.

FLORIDA: QB Graham Mertz is coming back for his final year of college eligibility and giving Coach Billy Napier some offensive consistency heading into 2024.

Mertz, a three-year starter at Wisconsin who transferred to Florida in January, made the announcement on social media with a short video titled “Unfinished Business.”

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