USC overcame a slow start and a slow finish in defeating Upstate 65-52 in the season opener at Colonial Life Arena. The Spartans jumped to a 9-2 lead before the Gamecocks responded with a 20-0 run to turn the game in their favor.
USC led by 17 with just under five minutes to play but the Spartans cut the lead to 9 with :34 left. That’s as close as Upstate would come to pulling off the upset. The Spartans played without last season’s leading scorer Deion Holmes who is out for several weeks with a broken hand.
The Gamecocks won despite going 0-18 from three, their first three-less game since 2012. They also committed 19 turnovers and had just 6 assists, none by starting point guard Tre Campbell in 28 minutes. Campbell has been dealing with a bad ankle sprain and has practiced just twice in the last 15 days according to coach Frank Martin.
The Gamecocks did go 27-37 from the line and won the rebounding battle 50-34.
Freshman Keyshawn Bryant led the Gamecocks with 21 points. He also grabbed 7 rebounds. Chris Silva recorded a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Malik Moore led the Spartans with 16 points. Spartan freshman Brandon Martin, Frank Martin’s son, scored 6 points in 13 minutes. The loss spoiled the debut of new Upstate coach Dave Dickerson, a former star at Denmark-Olar High School.
The Gamecocks return to action at home Friday night against Stony Brook.
Frank Martin postgame press conference
Hassani Gravett & Chris Silva
Upstate coach Dave Dickerson & Brandon Martin