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South Carolina Cruises Past Norfolk State 81-64
Men's Basketball  . 

South Carolina Cruises Past Norfolk State 81-64

by David Cloninger (Associated Press)

Gravett and Lawson each score 18 to lead the Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Senior guard Hassani Gravett and freshman guard A.J. Lawson scored 18 points apiece and South Carolina whipped Norfolk State 81-64 Tuesday night in its final tuneup before the conclusion of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tipoff.

Justin Minaya scored 10 points and Felipe Haase had nine for the Gamecocks (2-1) while the Spartans (2-2) got 15 points from Nic Thomas. South Carolina swished 11 3-pointers just two games after going 0-for-18 from long range, with Gravett connecting on five and Lawson hitting three.

”Good to come out and play well,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. ”Good to see us play through our principles through the first 32, 33 minutes of the game.”

Norfolk wilted under the barrage after a first half where it could have stayed closer because of South Carolina foul trouble. Starting bigs Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar were each on the bench but the Spartans were 14-of-22 from the free-throw line, allowing South Carolina to take a 14-point lead into halftime.

”We make those, theoretically, it’s a whole different game,” Spartans coach Robert Jones said. ”We were perfect in the second half.”

The lead swelled to as many as 28 in the second half as the Gamecocks cruised to the finish. Norfolk State used a multiple zone look, trying to confuse South Carolina and shut down the reliance on Silva and Kotsar.

It mostly worked, the two combining for 16 points. But when the Gamecocks’ guards were firing 3-pointers over the zones, the Spartans had to answer.

They hit 10-of-22 3-pointers but most were at the end with the result already decided. ”They weren’t making those shots earlier in the year,” Jones said.

Martin was glad to see his young team handle another night where Silva and Kotsar weren’t large factors.

”When I had the open shot, I shot it,” said Gravett, who was one off his career-high. ”Everything felt good and it just went in for me.”

> South Carolina shot 63 percent in the second half (15-for-24) and 56 percent from deep (5-for-9)
> Senior guard Hassani Gravett finished with 18 points (6-for-9 FG), one shy of matching a career high (19 at Mississippi State – 2/28/18)
> Freshman guard A.J. Lawson also had 18 points to go alongside eight assists and six rebounds / the Toronto native has had 14 assists the last two games
> Sophomore wing Justin Minaya had 10 points in 28 minutes of work, his second double-figuring outing of 2018-19 (13th career)   
> Carolina made 11 3s against the Spartans Tuesday night – the Gamecocks made 10 or more 3s on six occasions last season, the last time coming against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament last season
> The Gamecocks had 21 assists on 28 made field goals – it’s the most assists in a game for Carolina since its season-high 22 in a blowout win at FIU (11/27/17) last season

Carolina heads to the Mohegan Sun Arena this weekend for a pair of matchups to conclude the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.  The Gamecocks face Providence on Saturday, before facing either George Washington or Michigan on Sunday.