OK, so except for that hold-your-breath moment Sunday night when Dominique Archie crashed to the floor with an aching right knee and the entire South Carolina basketball season took a punch in the stomach.

Except for that.

Not a bad second year for the Charleston Classic.

A Carolina First Arena crowd of 2,531 saw Miami defeat the Gamecocks, 85-70, in the ACC-SEC Challenge part of the three-day basketball festival.

Everyone had a good time and said importantly nice things about the tournament, the venue and the competition.

"It felt like a home game most of the time," South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn said. "I thank all of our Gamecock fans that came out. This is a great school and a great town."

Even veteran basketball enthusiasts are adjusting to this new-fangled concept of a first-class tournament in Charleston smack dab during the most emotional part of football season. But the longer the Charleston Classic lasts, the better it gets. Soon, tournament owner ESPN is expected to announce N.C. State will join The Citadel as headline acts for the eight-team 2010 field.

Cocky, too

A bit surprisingly, the crowds for Clemson's three Charleston Classic games were better last year than those for the Gamecocks' three appearances this year.

The Clemson turnstile counts: 4,582 for Hofstra, 1,571 for TCU and 3,026 for the final against Temple.

South Carolina: 2,115 for La Salle, 2,391 for South Florida and a few more Sunday night.

You would think a few hundred extra fans would have shown up just for a rare Lowcountry opportunity to interact with Cocky, and perhaps ask the famed mascot to handicap the South Carolina-Clemson football game.

Still, USC athletic department people Sunday were just as pleased as Clemson people a year ago. Ideally, of course, either the Tigers or Gamecocks participate here as often as possible.

Word of mouth

There were the usual Carolina First Arena complaints among some fans about parking

No complaints, however, about having enough excellent restaurants within walking distance.

Championship game highlights included the bursts of USC senior Devan Downey's All-America talent, College of Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins and some little kids presenting a Charleston Classic check for $25,000 to the MUSC Children's Hospital, and Miami playing with purpose.

"Yeah, we have a little edge," head coach Frank Haith said when asked if his Hurricanes were upset about being picked 10th in the ACC's official preseason poll.

But, Haith added, that's nothing new for his typically overlooked and often overachieving program.

All the Charleston Classic needs to grow is time and word of mouth.

"I thought it was great," Haith said. "Charleston is a beautiful city. I thought it was well run. I thought everything was great, the way we were treated and the way the tournament was run.

"Obviously, it's easy for me to say that because we won."

Reach Gene Sapakoff at gsapakoff@postandcourier.com or 937-5593.