Frank Martin

Georgia forward Yante Maten (1) celebrates Georgia's 69-56 victory over South Carolina after an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Richard Hamm)
AP Photo/Richard Hamm

Maten leads Georgia past No. 25 South Carolina, 69-56

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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Yante Maten scored 18 points, Kenny Gaines had 17, and Georgia beat No. 25 South Carolina 69-56 on Tuesday night, giving the Gamecocks their third loss.

Georgia led by 10 points at halftime and never trailed in the second half.

J.J. Frazier scored 13 points – all in the second half – and hit two 3-pointers in the closing minutes for Georgia (12-8, 5-4 Southeastern Conference). The Bulldogs snapped a two-game losing streak.

South Carolina (19-3, 6-3) was denied its attempt to reach 20 wins for the first time since 2008-09, when the Gamecocks finished 21-10.

Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 18 points.

Michael Carrera had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Gamecocks, ending his streak of three straight games with 20 or more points.

No other South Carolina player scored in double figures.

The Gamecocks fell to 2-3 in SEC road games.

Georgia scored the last six points of the first half, including a jam and a layup by Maten, for a 33-23 lead over the cold-shooting Gamecocks.

Georgia took a big lead at 39-26 early in the second half before Duane Notice and Thornwell hit consecutive 3s for the Gamecocks. A basket by Carrera capped a quick 8-0 run to cut the lead to 39-34.

The Bulldogs led 50-48 before two straight baskets by Gaines stretched the lead back to six points. Frazier hit a 3-pointer from the corner for a 59-52 lead.

With only 1:49 remaining and the shot clock about to expire, Frazier hit an unlikely 3 while falling back into the Georgia bench for a 62-53 lead.

WAIT FOR ME

Frazier was trapped when he jumped over the South Carolina bench on the opening possession of the second half. He finally walked around the bench as Georgia passed the ball around on the other end of the court and then sprinted to join his teammates before catching a pass and calmly making a 3-pointer for his first points of the game.

TIP-INS

South Carolina: Carrera was called for his fourth foul with 31.3 seconds remaining and then was given a technical, ending his night. As the hot scorer entering the game, Carrera was the target of Georgia’s student section, who booed when he touched the ball. … The Gamecocks made only 6 of 28 shots (21.4 percent) from the field in the first half and was 18 for 57 (31.6 percent) for the game.

Georgia: Junior F Kenny Paul Geno had two points in his first start since the first seven games of the season. Georgia has recently tried Houston Kessler, Derek Ogbeide and Mike Edwards at the small forward spot. Ogbeide, a freshman, was the Bulldogs’ first substitute. … Charles Mann had 11 points.

UP NEXT

South Carolina hosts No. 8 Texas A&M on Saturday.

Georgia hosts Auburn on Saturday.

No. 19 South Carolina suffers first loss in blowout fashion

Alabama forward Riley Norris (1) is congratulated after a three-pointer over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Eric Schultz)
Associated Press
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On some nights seemingly nothing can go right for a team, making it nearly impossible to come away with the win. That was the case for No. 19 South Carolina Wednesday night, as they struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor and suffered their first loss of the season, 73-50 at Alabama.

Frank Martin’s team, which has thrived due to its offensive balance, tough defense and team chemistry, could not hit a shot against the Crimson Tide. After making just 30.8 percent of their shots in the first half the Gamecocks were even worse to start the second, missing their first 14 shots of the half (overall streak of 17 straight missed shots) as Alabama went on a 13-0 run and led by 26 with just over 14 minutes remaining.

That hole was far too deep for South Carolina to climb out of, as the Crimson Tide did a good job of keeping the visitors out of the paint offensively. That forced a number of challenged jump shots, be it from mid-range or from three, and with those shots not falling things snowballed on South Carolina.

One player who had no problem hitting shots: Alabama’s Riley Norris. Entering the game averaging six points per contest, Norris finished with a career-high 27 points on 9-for-16 shooting (8-for-11 3PT) to go along with seven rebounds. Norris scored 15 of Alabama’s first 19 points, all on three-pointers, as the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 19-4 lead.

That opening run put South Carolina in a position where they played faster than they were comfortable doing on the offensive end, settling for shots instead of working for quality looks. Over the last two games the Gamecocks have shot 8-for-42 from three, which is a concern for a team that’s one of the best in the country at knocking down three-pointers (38.5 percent entering Wednesday). Add in 18 turnovers Alabama converted into 23 points, and those factors resulted in South Carolina taking its first loss by a surprisingly large margin.

Alabama, which earned its first SEC win under head coach Avery Johnson, now has three wins over ranked teams this season, and doing so in front of a raucous crowd also celebrating another football national title is a nice boost for a rebuilding program. As for South Carolina the lessons are simple: take better care of the ball, and find higher quality shots.

Coach: South Carolina finally has depth to make NCAA run

Frank Martin
Associated Press
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Fourth-year basketball coach Frank Martin believes he has finally reached a key milestone at South Carolina.

“I don’t have to play the guys I get mad at anymore,” he said. “We’ve got enough people.”

Martin said he has depth and a group of upperclassmen, including guards Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice and forwards Laimonas Chatkevicius and Michael Carrera, who can take ownership of the program and mentor young players like McDonald’s All-American P.J. Dozier.

Martin and the Gamecocks are looking to build off last year’s 17-16 mark, South Carolina’s first winning record since the 2008-09 team went 21-10.

“They’re out there teaching the freshmen. They’re out there talking. They’re out there helping the next guy,” Martin said. “They understand what they’re doing which then allows me to be more creative”

The Gamecocks could surely use some creativity. The team won just 14 games in each of Martin’s first two years, the first two seasons of his career he finished with losing records. South Carolina looked ready to make a splash last season when it entered Southeastern Conference play at 10-3 and fresh off a victory over then-No. 9 Iowa State.

But the Gamecocks lost 11 of their next 14 games and were filled with problems. Thornwell, an SEC all-freshman a year earlier, played on two bad knees and Martin suspended forwards Demetrius Henry and Shamiek Sheppard were suspended for the rest of the season for violating team rules.

The two later transferred.

Still, South Carolina rebounded to win four of its last six games (including two in the SEC tournament) to ensure a winning mark.

Martin said his newcomers, which include 6-foot-9 forwards Eric Cobb and Chris Silva, are the kind who can compete in the rugged SEC.

Thornwell had injections during the offseason to fight off tendinitis in his knees, which he played with all last year. His numbers showed that. A season after averaging 15.6 points and 4.9 rebounds against SEC opponents, Thornwell had just 10.6 points and 4.2 rebounds this past year. Even worse for the Gamecocks, Thornwell has little of the high-flying spring he showed as a freshman.

The other day, though, Thornwell dunked to the delight of himself, his teammates and coaches.

“I told him, `I hadn’t seen that since the third grade,”‘ Martin joked.

Thornwell, the 6-5 junior, hopes to show more of that this year.

“Physically, I feel good,” he said. “I can walk better, run better, cut better, move better. That was first time dunking since freshman year. It felt going being able to touch the rim again.”

Guard Duane Notice, the team’s leading scorer last year at 11.7 points a game, went through a midseason drought last year and coincided with South Carolina’s SEC struggles. Martin said Notice has worked to make sure he’s prepared for a full season.

It helps to have Dozier, the 6-5 son of former South Carolina player Perry Dozier and sister of Asia Dozier, a starter on the Gamecocks’ Final Four women’s basketball team. The newest Dozier turned down Louisville, Michigan and North Carolina to stay near home in Columbia.

Martin said Dozier has worked at the point guard spot because he thinks and plays that way.

The biggest impact for South Carolina could be along the front line.

Chatkevicius, Carrera and Mindaugas Kacinas have handled much of the work underneath the past three seasons. Martin believes Cobb and Silva will do their share, despite their youth.

“I think we have too many guys now,” Chatkevicius said. “I’m not used to that. Glad to see so many faces here.”

The depth gives Martin hope these Gamecocks can get back to the NCAA Tournament, someplace they have not been since 2004.

Former Kansas State commit to announce decision Monday

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One attribute that many college basketball programs look to add, especially late in the recruiting calendar, is size. 6-foot-10 Eric Cobb certainly has that working in his favor, and since his decision to reopen his recruitment in April the former Kansas State commit has been the focus of some high-major programs.

One of those programs is South Carolina, which has some holes to fill in its front court and hosted Cobb on a visit in late-April. According to a report by Phil Kornblut of The State, Frank Martin’s program may be well-positioned to reel in Cobb with the big man due to announce a college decision on Monday. It was believed that Cobb would visit UMass this weekend, but that trip was canceled.

“He wants to hold it a secret but I would say South Carolina is in good shape,” said Nick Myles, Cobb’s coach at St. Francis Prep in Baltimore. “He was looking for a connection with the coaching staff and did want to be close to home so his family can see him, and that’s why South Carolina is in good shape.”

Also of note in the report is the mention of Seton Hall and VCU as programs that joined in the pursuit of Cobb following his de-commitment from Kansas State. However with VCU landing 6-foot-10 Lee College power forward Ahmed Hamdy Mohamed on Friday, new head coach Will Wade has added some size to his front court rotation.

South Carolina has three seniors in its front court rotation, led by Michael Carrera, with freshmen Chris Silva and Travon Bunch on board to join the program this summer. Adding Cobb would give the Gamecocks not only more size, but another young player to groom for the future.

6-foot-4 shooting guard becomes South Carolina’s fourth 2015 commitment

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With guard Ty Johnson being the lone player out of eligibility at the end of the season, South Carolina head coach Frank Martin won’t lack for depth on the perimeter going into the 2015-16 season. Yet that didn’t stop the SEC program from picking up another commitment, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jamall Gregory announced his decision to become a Gamecock Wednesday morning.

Gregory, who attends Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray Beach, Florida, made his decision less than a week after taking a visit to South Carolina. And he is the fourth player to have committed to South Carolina in the 2015 class.

In a story written by Phil Kornblut of the Charleston Post and Courier, Gregory made note of the intensity Martin wants his teams to play with defensively as something that appealed to him. He joins fellow guard P.J. Dozier and forwards Chris Silva and Travon Bunch in South Carolina’s 2015 class, with Bunch having verbally committed last month.

Those additions, plus the school’s continued pursuit of junior college big man Conor Clifford, place South Carolina in a spot where they’ll need to make some room for the additions. With that being the case, Johnson (who’s out of eligibility) may not be the only Gamecock on the move this spring.

South Carolina suspends two for the rest of the regular season

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source: AP
(AP)

South Carolina announced the suspension of two role players on Tuesday. Head coach Frank Martin announced that sophomore forward Demetrius Henry and freshman wing Shamiek Sheppard have been suspended for the rest of the regular season due to conduct detrimental to the team.

“Our program is based on helping young people grow as individuals and helping them succeed off the court in life after college, and winning on the court as a member of our team,” Martin said in the release. “We have expectations and responsibilities that we ask our players to meet on an every day basis, and unfortunately this has not happened. I will revisit the suspensions prior to the SEC Tournament.”

The 6-foot-9 Henry started in 19 of his 21 games this season and averaged 6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-6 Sheppard played in seven games and played 6.9 minutes per outing averaging 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.

This shouldn’t be a major loss for South Carolina, since they’ve struggled to a 12-12 start and a 3-9 start in the SEC. But it’s not a good pattern for the future since both players are underclassmen in the program who need to mature for the team to improve next season.