COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Quentin Grimes scored 24 points as Houston opened fast and kept pushing for a third straight victory 76-56 over South Carolina on Sunday. The Cougars (5-2) started with a 7-0 burst and rarely let up to win the first meeting between the schools in 29 seasons.
Grimes, the sophomore transfer from Kansas, again played a pivotal role in Houston's success. The team's leading scorer at 16.8 points a game coming in, Grimes had 16 of his points in the second half as the Cougars maintained a double-digit lead throughout. Grimes went for 20 or more points in his second straight game and the third time in Houston's past five contests.
Nate Hinton helped Houston build its large lead, hitting two of his three 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the opening half as the Cougars went into the break ahead 39-27. They then built the margin to 15 points just three minutes into the second half on Grimes' basket from beyond the arc.
The Gamecocks (6-4) could not respond in losing for the third time in the past five games.
Houston started with a 7-0 burst and increased that edge throughout the opening half.
The Gamecocks cut things to 14-12 on Justin Minaya's 3-pointer 10 minutes before the half. That's when the Cougars closed the period with a 25-15 surge to take a 12-point lead at the break. Houston's relentless attack had South Carolina on its heels much of the period. The Gamecocks struggled to find points, going 10-of-33 from the field (30.3%) and just 2-of-6 on foul shots the opening 20 minutes.
Hinton finished with 17 points, all but four coming in the first half, and 11 rebounds for the Cougars.
Maik Kotsar had 12 points and AJ Lawson had 10 for South Carolina, which has lost three of its past five games.
> South Carolina shot just 32.3 percent (20-for-62) from the field, it's second-lowest shooting performance of the season (32.1 percent vs. Wichita State on 11/26/19).
> Houston was plus-12 on the glass (41-29) and shot 50 percent (26-for-52) from the floor. The Cougars are the first opponent this season to shoot 50 percent or higher against the Gamecocks.
> Senior forward Maik Kotsar led Carolina with 12 points, his sixth double-figure outing in the last seven games.
> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson was the only other Gamecock in double figures finishing with 10 points in just 20 minutes of action.