South Carolina Gamecocks

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  The South Carolina Gamecocks pose for a photo with the trophy after defeating the Syracuse Orange 64-50 in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

South Carolina beats No. 18 Syracuse in Brooklyn

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Sindarius Thornwell finished with 16 points and five assists and P.J. Dozier chipped in with 15 points and 10 boards as South Carolina improved to 6-0 on the season with a 64-50 win over No. 18 Syracuse at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

It’s the second win for South Carolina over a ranked team this week – they beat No. 25 Michigan on Wednesday – and the Gamecocks allowed a total of just 96 points in the two games.

This is the second straight season that Frank Martin’s club has gotten off to a terrific start to the year, as they won their first 15 games last season. South Carolina eventually missed last year’s NCAA tournament despite finishing the regular season at 24-8 in large part due to the fact that they didn’t have much in the way of great wins.

And who knows if what beating Michigan and Syracuse will look like come March.

But the Wolverines were one of the most surprising teams in the country before they were completely stymied by the Gamecocks in Columbia, and the Orange entered Saturday’s game having averaged 86 points on the season, an impressive number even if it came against questionable competition.

The bottom line is this, however: After the week they’ve had, it seems clear that the Gamecocks will be one of the teams that will be in the mix to finish second in the SEC, and if they’ve proven anything, it’s that their defense will be able to keep them in games even if they’re struggling on the offensive end of the floor.

Thornwell leads South Carolina over No. 25 Michigan

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 03:  South Carolina Gamecocks guard Sindarius Thornwell #0 in action against the Iowa State Cyclones during their game at the Barclays Center on January 3, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Sindarius Thornwell had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead South Carolina past cold-shooting and 25th-ranked Michigan 61-46 on Wednesday night.

The Gamecocks improved to 5-0 for a second straight season and knocked off their first ranked opponent since an 81-78 win at No. 8 Texas A&M last February. South Carolina got a big assist in this one from Michigan’s awful outside touch – it finished 10 of 52 (19.6 percent) for its worst shooting percentage in six years.

It was the first time the Wolverines (4-1) hadn’t reached 50 points since scoring 42 in a loss to Eastern Michigan on Dec. 9, 2014.

The Wolverines scored more points from the free throw line, 24, than the field. They hit just two of 26 attempts from behind the arc.

South Carolina took control with a 22-12 run to start the second half and the Gamecocks were never tested as Michigan kept missing.

Zak Irvin, Michigan’s leading scorer, was just 2 of 13 from the field for five points. He fouled out with 5:33 to go. Derrick Walton Jr. led the Wolverines with 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting.

Duane Notice added 13 points for the Gamecocks.

THE BIG PICTURE

Michigan: The Wolverines are in the bottom half of Big Ten shooting teams early on and it was easy to see why against South Carolina. Michigan was just 6 of 24 from the field in the opening half, including an ice cold 1 of 12 from behind the arc. If it weren’t for its talent for drawing fouls (Michigan made 14 first-half free throws), the Wolverines would have been in a deep, deep hole. Michigan will have to find a more consistent touch if it hopes to make a mark in conference play.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks’ young players – there were four freshmen and a sophomore who saw first-half action – were aggressive on defense, maybe a bit too aggressive in the first half. South Carolina was whistled for 11 fouls, putting Michigan’s accurate free throw shooters on the line. At one point, Gamecocks coach Frank Martin screamed, “Why?” at PJ Dozier after his silly foul following his missed shot.

UP NEXT

Michigan starts a four-game home stand with Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday night.

South Carolina takes on its second-straight ranked opponent when it plays No. 18 Syracuse on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York.

More AP college basketball at http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Frank Martin discusses anthem protests

Frank Martin
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Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has spread throughout the NFL to the WNBA and even to high schools. It’s also made its way to college basketball, where Virginia posted photos to social media of the team kneeling at center court.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin lent his expansive thoughts on the topic.

“When I found out what he did,” Martin said, “I was proud that an athlete didn’t want to be vanilla and consumed with his paycheck that he wouldn’t be willing to take a stance on what he thought was right and wrong.

“I applaud celebrities that are willing to bring attention to what’s wrong or to what’s right. I don’t like celebrities that like to go vanilla on the things that really matter because if they hide from taking chances it means they’re only concerned about their status their paycheck and their future, not  impacting the ones that don’t have the stage that they’re on.”

Martin, whose mother and her family left Cuba in 1961, took issue with exactly how Kaepernick’s protest has unfolded, however. In one instance, Kaepernick wore a shirt with an image of Fidel Castro on it to a press conference.

“If you’re going to talk the words oppression,” Martin said “if that’s the avenue, don’t talk about oppression and celebrate Fidel Castro because no one has oppressed more people and killed more people, more black people than Fidel Castro.

“So when he decided to take that moment, he didn’t express himself the right way. That’s why everyone started talking about the military and everything else because the message he tried to portray was not portrayed in the proper manner in that moment.

“If he would have been standing up there in a coat and tie or in a collared shirt and said police brutality or social injustice, then that would have been the conversation rather than the military and everything that it took.”

As for his thoughts on one or more of his player’s protesting during the anthem, Martin said, “A lot of people talk the talk but do you walk the walk? If there’s something you don’t like, you have a platform. People will listen to you.

“Just make sure you’re prepared to express what you don’t like the right way. So if they choose to not support the national anthem, that will be disappointing for me, but it’s their right. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with them. It’s their right. Anyone that questions that is out of their minds. That’s why this is the greatest country in the whole world.”

Martin said he addressed the issue with his players the day he returned from a trip outside the country and learned of Kaepernick’s actions.

“I asked our players, who in this room has this country held back, who, how?” he said. “Nobody raised their hands. So how can you tell me this country holds you back but it’s never held you back? But it’s popular on Twitter to say, ‘Oh this country holds you back.’

“Like I told our players, this country doesn’t hold you back. Some of us have more obstacles in front of us than others but nobody is grabbing us from behind. Some of us have to learn how to clear more hurdles to get where we want to go than others.

“Some people run a 100-meter dash, some people run a 100-meter hurdle race. That’s the difference here in this country. What we have to figure out a way to unite because that’s what makes us great, that we all get a platform to speak, to express ourselves, to move forward if we have the courage to get over the hurdles, this country opens its doors to you. That’s the deal.”

 

No. 22 South Carolina remains unbeaten with win over Vandy

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin gestures from the bench during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Columbia, S.C.  (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
(AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Sindarius Thornwell had 19 points and eight rebounds and No. 22 South Carolina remained undefeated with a 69-65 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

South Carolina (15-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) passed its first tough test of the season, taking its first lead on PJ Dozier’s floater with 10:54 left. Dozier then hit a reverse layup as the rare near sellout crowd at Colonial Life Center roared.

Dozier scored seven of his nine points over the next 5 minutes and the Gamecocks held off Vanderbilt (8-7, 0-3) with good defense. The Commodores missed 19 of their last 22 shots.

South Carolina and SMU are the only unbeaten teams left in Division I. South Carolina has only reached 15 wins in three of its past 10 seasons.

Riley Lachance and Wade Baldwin IV each had 13 points for Vanderbilt.

The Commodores built an 8-0 lead less than 2 minutes in as Luke Kornet hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Damien Jones had a putback.

The deficit was the largest South Carolina had faced all season. The Gamecocks also trailed for 19:45 of the first half, which was more time than they had been behind in any game.

But South Carolina kept it close. Five times the Gamecocks were down one and failed to take the lead.

Once South Carolina took over, though, Vanderbilt couldn’t respond. Nolan Cressler fouled out with 7:55 left and Jones got his fifth foul with 6:34 to go. Baldwin also fouled out at the end as the Commodores sent South Carolina to the line.

Free throws kept Vanderbilt in it. The Commodores made 11 foul shots during the final 14 minutes.

TIP-INS

Vanderbilt: Kornet returned to the starting lineup for the Commodores for the first time since injuring his knee in practice Dec. 8. He scored eight points. … Vanderbilt was picked to finish second in the SEC, but has started 0-3 in the league for the first time since 2013.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks’ 15-0 start is their best since the 1933-34 season. That team also shares South Carolina’s longest winning streak of 17 games with the 1969-70 team that went undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Conference before losing in the tournament. … This is only the third time in 25 SEC seasons the Gamecocks have started with two league wins.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt hosts Auburn on Tuesday night.

South Carolina travels to Alabama on Wednesday night.

VIDEO: South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell crushes Clemson defender on dunk

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South Carolina moved to 10-0 on the season on Friday night as they were able to outlast in-state rival Clemson. Junior wing Sindarius Thornwell put down one of the better poster dunks of the early season by throwing it down on Clemson’s Landry Nnoko.

The former four-star recruit has been an important player for the Gamecocks the last three seasons as he’s averaging 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists per game on the season.

 

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: South Carolina looks to remain undefeated

South Carolina's Duane Notice, left, and Mindaugas Kacinas, of Lithuania,  right, take a selfie during the Southeastern Conference men's NCAA college basketball media day in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Ole Miss at Memphis, 8:00 p.m.

One of the nation’s best scoring guards will be on display in this one, as senior Stefan Moody leads the Rebels up against Memphis. Moody’s averaging 24.1 points and 4.2 assists per game for Andy Kennedy’s team, and slowing him down is the primary objective of any team. Memphis will counter with a perimeter rotation led by senior Ricky Tarrant, and their top two scorers are forwards Dedric Lawson and Shaq Goodwin. Keep an eye on the free throw numbers in this one, as Memphis is one of the nation’s best when it comes to getting to the foul line (third in free throw rate).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: South Carolina at Clemson, 7:00 p.m.

Despite being 9-0 on the season, Frank Martin’s Gamecocks have flown under the radar nationally to this point in the season. They boast five double-digit scorers led by senior forwards Mindaugas Kacinas (13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Laimonas Chatkevicius (13.0, 4.3), and freshman P.J. Dozier (8.1 ppg) will only get better with time. South Carolina’s gotten the job done thus far with balanced scoring an tough defense (opponents shot 39.9 percent from two), and that will need to be the case when they take on their in-state rival tonight. The Tigers are led by junior forward Jaron Blossomgame, who’s averaging 16.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and is shooting 57.6 percent from the field.

SIX THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. A game that may float under the radar tonight is Southern’s trip to Ruston to take on Louisiana Tech. Eric Konkol’s Bulldogs are looking to rebound from a 19-point loss at Ole Miss, and they’ll do so against a team that has road wins over Mississippi State, Tulane and Wyoming. The tandem of Alex Hamilton and Eric McCree has been key for Louisiana Tech thus far.

2. BYU is back in action, taking on one of the early favorites in the MAC in Central Michigan. While CMU can put the ball in the basket their issue is defense, as they’re ranked 316th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Can they slow down Kyle Collinsworth and company?

3. Oregon hosts Long Beach State, with the 49ers having already been through a rigorous non-conference schedule. While they’re still awaiting the debut of the injured Dylan Ennis, Oregon’s received steady play at the point from sophomore Casey Benson. His numbers on the season: 31 assists and just two turnovers.

4. Wake Forest faces a Coastal Carolina team that’s expected to contend in the Big South, with Cliff Ellis’ team being a balanced group offensively led by guards Elijah Wilson and Shivaughn Wiggins. The question for the Chanticleers is whether or not they have the power inside needed to deal with Demon Deacon forwards Devin Thomas and Dinos Mitoglou.

5. Grand Canyon heads west to play San Diego State, and this could be a trickier game than one would anticipate. The Antelopes are 8-2 on the season, and the addition of guard Dominic Magee (29 points against Omaha) has given them another guard capable of putting points on the board. The Aztecs will defend, but can they produce enough on the offensive end? That’s been the question all season for them.

6. 8-1 Colorado takes on Nicholls State in a game they should win comfortably. Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes have turned things around after a disappointing 2014-15 season, and while senior Josh Scott has been the mainstay George King’s been good as well. The redshirt sophomore’s averaging 15.9 points per game, shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 48.8 percent from three.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Southern Illinois at Murray State, 8:00 p.m.
  • Texas State at Washington State, 9:00 p.m.
  • Louisiana at Pepperdine, 10:00 p.m.
  • Cal-State Fullerton at Oregon State, 11:00 p.m.