South Carolina’s two-game visit to the Bahamas got off on the right foot Friday with an 86-60 win over Žalgiris-2 from Lithuania. Meechie Johnson led the Gamecocks in scoring with 20 points. The Gamecocks nailed 16 three-pointers and forced 22 turnovers. USC will play the second game of the visit on Sunday at 4:00 PM vs Obras Basket from Argentina.
Here’s the Friday game story from USC Athletics:
South Carolina used a big second half to take down Žalgiris-2 from Lithuania, 86-60, in its opening game of its 2023 foreign tour to the Bahamas. The Gamecocks outscored their opponents 50-26 in the second half. Carolina knocked down 16 3s and forced 22 turnovers (14 steals) on the defensive end of the floor in the game.
“It was great to see everybody get out there and compete against another team for the first time,” said head coach Lamont Paris. “We’ve been battling with each other for the last eight weeks or so. I think there was a lot of anticipation built up from this group to get out there and play against somebody else. I thought we handled it really well. I thought we moved the ball really well. I thought we were incredibly unselfish. I think we generated some things offensively, and we made a couple tweaks defensively that the guys responded to.”
The Gamecocks hit four early triples to open up a double-digit lead four minutes in. Carolina led 24-17 after the first quarter thanks to eight points from graduate transfer Ta’Lon Cooper. Žalgiris-2 got back into the game after a shooting slump by the Gamecocks in the second quarter. But Carolina remained in front, 36-34, as junior Meechie Johnson banked in a 60-foot heave as time expired. He led the Gamecocks with 13 points in half one.
Carolina pushed the lead to nine, 59-50, at the end of the third quarter. Johnson drove to the basket and kicked it out to a wide open B.J. Mack. The graduate transfer knocked down the shot from behind the arc just before the horn sounded. The Gamecocks did not look back from there in a dominant fourth quarter. Transfer Myles Stute, one of the top 3-point shooters in the SEC the last two seasons at Vanderbilt, hit four 3s in the second half. He knocked three shots from behind the arc on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter.
Four players scored in double figures for Carolina led by Johnson who had 20. He and Stute each made four 3s. Cooper and Mack each hit three 3s.