Gamecocks fall to No. 5 Virgina
Hoos shot 50 percent in second half, outscoring Carolina by 10
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Virginia also won its first nine games last season, and then got stung by defensive-minded West Virginia.
This time, the Cavaliers made it a perfect 10.
Ty Jerome scored a second-high 25 points, Kyle Guy had 18 and No. 5 Virginia beat South Carolina 69-52 on Wednesday night to improve to 10-0 for the first time in four years.
“It’s nice we can learn from those mistakes (last year) and play a team that brings a lot of pressure and come out with the W,” Guy said.
It’s the best start for the Cavaliers since they opened with 19 straight wins on their way to the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the 2014-15 season. They showed off their usual stout defense while sending the Gamecocks (4-6) to their third straight loss — and second in a row to a No. 5 team after falling at then fifth-ranked Michigan on Dec. 8.
Jerome and Guy led the way.
“Kyle and Ty together, they’re dangerous out there,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.
South Carolina shot just 36 percent (20 for 55) from the field, including a 3-for-18 performance from 3-point range. Chris Silva led the Gamecocks with 11 points.
The Gamecocks closed to 35-31 on Felipe Haase’s 3-pointer early in the second half, but the Cavaliers grabbed control with a 17-4 run. Jerome opened the decisive stretch with a 3 and Braxton Key’s dunk made it 52-35 with 13 minutes left.
“I think it speaks to our system and experience,” Jerome said. “We know if we’re not right on any night, we can get beat. So it’s just a matter of getting better each day, no matter who we’re playing.”
Jerome pushed the pace early with 13 points in the first 12 minutes, helping the Cavaliers to a 22-12 lead. But the Gamecocks scored 14 of the next 19 points, pulling within one on Alanzo Frink’s first 3-pointer of the season with 3:23 left in the half.
> Carolina was just 3-for-18 from behind the arc.
> The Hoos were efficient on the offensive end the second half, shooting 50 percent (12-for-24). They turned the ball over just five times the entire game.
> Freshman Alanzo Frink posted career highs in points (9), rebounds (8) and minutes (23) coming off the bench.
> Seniors Chris Silva (11) and Hassani Gravett (10) were the only Gamecocks in double figures.
> Freshman guard A.J. Lawson, Carolina’s leading scorer entering the matchup, was held to just five shot attempts which matched a season-low.
The Gamecocks remain at home, welcoming in-state rival Clemson to Colonial Life Arena on Saturday afternoon. Tip for the annual Palmetto Series matchup is 2 p.m. ET. Mike Morgan (PxP) and Chris Spatola (analyst) will be on the call for the nationally televised contest on ESPN2.