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November 21, 2011

Williams out at least three games

South Carolina sophomore guard Brenton Williams' first season at the major-college level is on hold.

Williams, a transfer from Santa Fe (Fla.) College, sprained his left knee in a 64-63 loss to Tennessee State on Sunday and is out for at least the next three games. USC released a statement on Monday morning saying that Williams will not suit up for Tuesday's game hosting Mississippi Valley State, Friday's game against No. 1 North Carolina in Las Vegas or Saturday's game, also in Las Vegas, against Southern Cal or UNLV.

After those three games, Williams will be re-evaluated.

GamecockCentral.com first reported on Sunday evening that the injury was to Williams' MCL and was termed "bad." There has been no further update beyond what USC has said, but the way USC is handling the injury is similar to how it handled Dominique Archie's knee injury in the 2009-10 season.

Archie went down with a knee injury in November that season and was judged to have a sprained knee, with the same line of being re-evaluated at a later date. He never played again.

Williams, a late addition to last year's recruiting class after point guard Bruce Ellington decided to give football a try, was being counted on to supply backcourt depth. With him out, USC is expected to keep Lakeem Jackson at the point, backed up by Eric Smith, who poured in a game-high 18 points against the Tigers.

Ellington is set to return to the basketball team on Sunday, although he sustained a sprained left ankle in the Gamecocks' football win over The Citadel last week and is questionable for this week's game hosting Clemson. The first basketball game after the Clemson game is on Dec. 1 hosting Providence.

Williams scored 13, 3 and 1 points in his first three games. He seemed to suffer the injury in the first half against TSU when he got the ball on the right wing, drove the baseline and collided with a Tigers defender while leaping for an inside shot. Williams hit the deck hard and while he shot the ensuing free throws, he only made one and the game had to be stopped so he could hobble off the court.

Williams' injury means the Gamecocks are down to nine scholarship players until Ellington returns, although they could always suit up their two walk-ons. Shane Phillips is a point guard, but he and Alex Irwin, while considered part of the roster, do not dress for games and are regarded as practice players.

The Gamecocks (1-2) host Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in their second game of the Las Vegas Invitational.

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