Dec. 1, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 20/23 South Carolina (7-0) downed Vermont (6-3) 68-50 Thursday night to remain undefeated. Sophomore PJ Dozier tallied a new career-high 21 points to lead the way for the Gamecocks. Freshman Maik Kotsar (14), sophomore Chris Silva (12) and senior Sindarius Thornwell (11) were also in double-figures.
Carolina jumped out to a 7-3 lead at the first media timeout behind five points from Dozier. The Gamecock defense was stifling in the early goings as the Catamounts started the game 1-for-6 from the field (16.7 percent). Two free throws by Dre Willis cut the lead to 7-5 and ended a 4:09 scoreless draught for Vermont with 13:11 left in the first half.
The game then went back-and-forth the next few minutes as the teams traded baskets. A jumper by Vermont’s Cam Ward cut it to 13-11 with 12:01 remaining in the first half, but five-straight points by Thornwell pushed the Gamecocks’ lead to 18-11.
Vermont closed the gap, but South Carolina pushed the lead back to seven at 24-17 on a jumper from Hassani Gravett. A Vermont 3-pointer and a free throw brought the game back to three points at 24-21 before Silva scored seven-straight points to make it 31-23, giving Carolina its biggest lead of the half at the under-four media timeout. Dozier hit a 3 to make it 34-23 on the first possession out of the timeout. The made 3 marked a scorching 14-for-21 (66.7 percent) start from the field for the Gamecocks.
A Silva and-1 play made it 39-25 with 2:21 left. Vermont would close the half on a 7-4 run, as Carolina led 43-32 at the break. Dozier and Silva were both in double-figures for the Gamecocks with 12 points apiece at halftime. The duo tied for the team-lead in rebounds as well with four. Thornwell nearly broke into double-figures for Carolina, as he tallied nine points in the opening period. The Gamecocks finished half one 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) from the field.
Carolina came out firing on all cylinders in the second half. Two quick baskets by Kotsar and a transition alley hoop from Thornwell to Dozier forced Catamount head coach John Becker to take a timeout just two minutes into the half after the 6-0 run by the Gamecocks.
The run was stretched to 13-1 after a Dozier made 3 with 16:10 left in the game. South Carolina’s hot first half shooting continued as they started 6-of-7 (85.7 percent) from the field after the break.
The Gamecocks led 58-37 at the under 12 media timeout with 11:09 left after pushing the run to 16-5. From there, Carolina would lead by 19 or more the rest of the game.
Kotsar exploded in the second half with 12 points to lead all scorers. Dozier added nine and tallied his first career 20-point game with 4:52 left after a made layup. Thornwell got into double-figures with a made put back late, as he finished with 11 points and led the team with nine assists, which tied a career single-game high for the senior. The Lancaster, S.C. native, has been in double-figures every game this season for South Carolina.
The Gamecocks outstanding defense continued as they held the Catamounts to 35.3 percent (18-of-51) shooting on the night. Vermont shot just 29.2 percent (7-of-24) from the floor in the second half.
- Tonight’s win marks the third time since the 2003-04 season South Carolina has started 7-0. The Gamecocks started 7-0 in 2003-04 and in 2015, when the team won 15-straight games to start the year.
- The Gamecocks have now won 22 of their last 25 games in Colonial Life Arena.
- The win marked Carolina’s first over a current member of the America East Conference since posting a 79-67 win over Hartford on Jan. 9, 1985.
- Freshman big man Maik Kotsar finished with 14 points, marking his fourth-straight game in double-figures.
- Freshman forward Sedee Keita scored his first career points going 2-of-2 at the foul line early in the first half.
South Carolina will host FIU on Sunday in a 2 p.m. ET matchup set to be broadcast on SEC Network+. Gamecock head coach Frank Martin is a 1993 FIU grad and owns a 1-0 all-time record vs. his alma mater.
TWEET OF THE GAME