South Carolina has had an up-and-down start to the season, posting convincing wins over Longwood and Florida International, but losing to in-state rival Clemson. A close loss to No. 20 Baylor has the Gamecocks sitting at 2-2 as they hit the road to face the No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys on Friday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Head coach Frank Martin expected some growing pains with such a young roster, but his squad should get a boost with guard Bruce Ellington returning to the team while the USC football team waits to start their bowl preparations.
“Bruce is off the charts,” Martin proclaimed. “Him practicing today made our team better. He understands stuff…20 minutes in, he already understood some of the things we’re doing differently better than some of the guys who have been here for eight weeks, and he brings that dynamic.”
When asked if and how much Ellington would play Friday, Martin was unsure.
“I know he’s going to play as hard as he can, and he understands the basic fundamentals of our defensive concepts, so if he screws things up he might screw them up on offense a little bit – which I can kind of live with because you can always play around a mistake on offense – but it’s hard to play around a mistake on defense.”
Ellington & Co. will have their hands full with the Cowboys, who are led by sophomore point guard - and future lottery pick – Marcus Smart, who is averaging over 20 points a game.
Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.
AUDIO: Frank Martin [4:56]