Southern Conference teams have been a nightmare for USC the past few seasons, and Appalachian State darn near became the latest SoCon team to take down Gamecocks. The Mountaineers made a game of it Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena, but the Gamecocks managed to hold on for a 74-69 win.
USC coach Frank Martin, who is never one to hide his frustration, was…wait for it…not the least bit frustrated! Sure he knows his team is still nowhere close to where he wants them, but they are at least moving in the right direction.
“Good win for our guys,” Martin said. “You got to be in those moments, in those situations sooner or later. Because when you play hard games against hard teams you are begging to be in that moment. That means you’ve got a chance to win.”
AUDIO: Frank Martin post Appalachian State [3:00]
The Gamecocks got a little sloppy offensively at times, but some of that can be traced back to the long hiatus and mental tax that comes with the exam break. The most important thing from Martin’s standpoint was that his team got through tough game and managed to take a small step forward.
“I’m happy we got a win,” Marin said. “Now it’s out of the way. Now we get to practice as much as we want. Now we get a chance to become good.”
Lakeem Jackson led the Gamecocks with 16 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds. Minda Kacinas put together the best game of his young career, notching his first double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Brenton Williams added 11 points.
USC improves to 7-3 and will play Manhattan Saturday in Brooklyn, NY as part of the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational.
- Frank Martin made a passionate speech to the fans in the pregame about the school shooting in Newton, CT. He said it hit close to home with him as a parent and former teacher. He also implored those in power to do something to try to prevent future tragedies. His speech was followed by a moment of silence.
- The 5:00 tip didn’t do the team any favors in terms of crowd support. They didn’t have the announced attendance on the box score, but there was clearly a bigger crowd in place by the time the 21st ranked USC women tipped things off against top ranked Stanford.
- Junior point guard Eric Smith had a career high nine assist, including seven in the first half.
- Bruce Ellington scored eight points on a 3-7 shooting night. He was 2-2 on 3-pointers. He will not be with the team again until the January 5th home game against SC State because of his obligations with the football team.