USC wrapped up its non-conference slate with a tidy 80-69 win over South Carolina State Saturday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. The win moves the Gamecocks to 10-3, matching their win total from last season. Next week the team opens its 18 game SEC slate with a road game at Mississippi State.
Frank Martin only had eight scholarship players available for the game Saturday and he used every one of them. They all scored too. Lakeem Jackson led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds. Brian Richardson had 15 points, the second highest total of his career. He scored 17 against the Bulldogs last season. Brenton Williams (14), and Damien Leonard (10) were the other double digit scorers for the Gamecocks.
S.C. State was led in scoring by Matthrew Hezekiah’s game high 24 points. Adama Adams added 12 points for the Bulldogs.
With the SEC schedule looming Martin continues to stress he’s seeing a more good than bad from his team.
“Our practices were awesome this week,” Martin said. “Enthusiastic, disciplined, I mean, I know we didn’t come out and play that way the first ten minutes of the game and that’s unfortunate. …I’m not one of those jump of the cliff type guys. I know our country is about to jump of that financial cliff or whatever everyone called it. I’m not ready to jump of that cliff. It takes time.
“Are we ready (for the SEC)? I guess we’re going to find out. We don’t get to hide here. We don’t get to call in sick. We can’t wake up Tuesday and say ‘you know what, we can’t show up tomorrow. It’s a Saturday softball league; I kind of tweaked my ankle. We’ve got to go play that one now. So we are going to find out if this thing is working.”
After they face Mississippi State Wednesday Martin and the Gamecocks return home to play Auburn on Saturday.
- Frank Martin opened his post-game press conference by addressing the Lashay Page situation. Page was ruled academically ineligible Friday. “I failed Lashay. I didn’t do my job well enough. It is the first time I have had a kid not make it through the year. That’s on me and my staff.”
- USC now leads the all-time series against SC State 19-0.
- S.C. State coach Tim Carter received a technical foul in the second half. That makes three straight games the opposing coach has been T’d up.
- Martin said he is thrileed with the way point guard Eric Smith is playing. Smith had five points and seven assist. Martin said what Smith brings to the table doesn’t usually show up in the stat sheet. He likes the way Smith runs the offense.
- Bruce Ellington did not play so he could have a couple of extra days to readjust to basketball from football. He sat on the bench with the team in street clothes. Martin said he gave Ellington three days off to spend with his family to “catch his breath” after spending the past two years jumping back and forth between basketball and football.
- The Gamecocks also didn’t have freshman forward Michael Carrera who sat out a second straight game with a hip injury. There is no timetable for when he will return, but he will do some work on the court with trainers Monday. After that they will reevaluate when he might be able to return.