LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) -- Brandon Costner had 21 points and Farnold Degand added 14 as North Carolina State rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit to beat South Carolina 63-61 at the Old Spice Classic on Friday.
North Carolina State (3-1) also got nine points and eight rebounds from J.J. Hickson in advancing to Sunday's championship game. The Wolfpack, who dropped out of the Top 25 this week, have won two in a row since losing 65-63 to New Orleans last Sunday.Zam Fredrick and Devan Downey had 12 points each for South Carolina (3-2).Costner had a 3-pointer and hit two free throws to put North Carolina up 63-58 with 1 minute remaining. South Carolina cut the deficit to 63-61 on Dominique Archie's long-rang jumper with 54 seconds to play.Downey had a shot blocked and Fredrick missed on a scoring chance during the final 30 seconds.North Carolina State trailed 49-40 with 11 minutes left, but used a 15-3 run to go up 55-52 at the four-minute mark. Costner completed the surge by converting two free throws and making a short jumper.South Carolina had taken the nine-point advantage during a 9-2 stretch that saw Fredrick, Dwayne Day and Brandis Raley-Ross all hit 3's.Hickson didn't start for the second consecutive game after North Carolina State coach Sidney Lowe said the freshman broke a team policy. He entered five minutes into the game when Ben McCauley limped off the court, but committed two fouls and failed to score over nine minutes of action in the first half.McCauley returned six minutes later after getting his left ankle re-taped. He had six points and six rebounds in 29 minutes.South Carolina led 29-25 at intermission.