USC opened its basketball season with a 77-55 win over North Alabama but Frank Martin called it “sloppy” largely due to injuries and illness that have beset the team in the last week. Martin said his team Wednesday night did not reflect how the team looked in the first five weeks of practice. Supporting his argument were 20 turnovers and 17 missed free throws. Martin said his players didn’t have the fight in them he expected, didn’t guard and were slow on their rotations. A bright spot, the return of Justin Minaya who missed the last 27 games of last season due to injury. He recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds as he played more of the four spot in this game, something he did in practice with Maik Kotsar out with a bad cold.
Other key points in the Gamecocks’ victory
- USC built a 10 point lead 12 minutes into the game going from 7-7 to a 23-13 lead. They took that 10 point lead into the second half but the Lions made a run and cut the deficit to 4. But the Gamecocks responded with a 14-0 run to build a 57-39 lead with 10:51 to play. The Lions were not able to mount a response.
- Transfer Jair Bolden made an impressive debut with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Two others playing in their first game, Jermaine Couisnard and Jalyn McCreary, each contributed 9 points and 4 rebounds off the bench.
- AJ Lawson took just 4 shots and finished with 8 points hitting 6-7 from the line. Martin said Lawson did not play with the focus and energy needed to play at a high level.
- The Gamecocks shot 49% from the floor but just 2-9 from three and 19-36 from the line.
- USC returns to action Sunday at noon against Wyoming at the Colonial Life Arena.
- Final Box
Frank Martin postgame press conference
Justin Minaya and Jermaine Couisnard postgame press conference