Gamecocks Travel To Clemson For Sunday Matchup
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (6-4) travels to the Upstate to face Clemson (5-4) in a 5 p.m. ET matchup on Sunday at Littlejohn Coliseum. Roy Philpott (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst) will handle the call for the ESPN2 broadcast, while Derek Scott (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (analyst) will have the call over the air for the Gamecock Radio Network.
> South Carolina returns to the court following a week-long break from game action due to exams when it travels to face Clemson in the Upstate on Sunday. The non-conference matchup vs. the Tigers marks Carolina’s fourth game away from home this season and it’s second true road contest.
> Sunday’s contest marks the 170th meeting all-time between the Gamecocks and Tigers. The series dates back to a 39-18 Carolina win on Feb. 6, 1913, in Columbia.
> The matchup is also part of the Palmetto Series, which Carolina currently leads 5-4. Throughout the year, and as Carolina and Clemson compete against each other, each will earn points for a win and the overall winner will take home the coveted Palmetto Series trophy.
> The Gamecocks most recently suffered a home loss to Houston on Dec. 8. The Carolina offense hit just 32.3 percent from the field, and the Cougars claimed the road win. Senior forward Maik Kotsar led Carolina with 12 points, and sophomore guard AJ Lawson added 10 in the loss.
> Carolina hit six 3s vs. Houston, it’s highest output from beyond the arc since hitting 7-of-19 attempts from range vs. Northern Iowa.
> The Gamecocks are 1-0 on the road this season, and are 23-33 (41.0%) in road contests dating back to the 2014-15 campaign.
> According to KenPom.com, the Gamecocks are one of the least experienced teams in the nation, ranking 328th in KenPom.com computations. This is determined using eligibility class weighted by minutes played. Another stat of note, offensively, Carolina is 25th in average possession length at 15.4 while its opponents are 321st at 18.3.
THROUGH 10 GAMES …
> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson paces the Gamecocks with 15.9 points per game, and he is also dishing 2.7 assists per outing.
> Senior forward Maik Kotsar has scored 100 points through the first 10 games, 10.0 points per outing. His 6.1 rebounds per game lead the team and rank 15th in the SEC.
> The Gamecocks are holding opponents to just 38.8 percent from the floor, which ranks fifth in the SEC and 56th nationally.
> Carolina has dished at least 13 assists in nine games.
> R-freshman guard Jermaine Couisnard paces the Gamecocks with 2.8 assists per game. He is also solid at the charity stripe, having hit 14-of-17 attempts – 82.4% – thus far.
> Carolina has held its opponent to less than 40 percent from the field on five occassions, including holding Wyoming to 23.1 percent and only nine made field goals.
> Sophomore forward Alanzo Frink has hit a team best 63.8 percent (30-47) of his shot attempts.
SENIOR LEADERSHIP FROM KOTSAR
> Senior forward Maik Kotsar has played great basketball to start the season. Kotsar is such a strong component for the Gamecocks on the defensive end, but of late, his offense and rebounding have been key.
> Kotsar recently scored in double figures in a career-best five-straight contests, starting with 14 points vs. Boston U (Nov. 19). He scored 11 points vs. Gardner-Webb (Nov. 22), before leading the Gamecocks with 12 points, three assists, two blocks and three steals, while also pulling down seven rebounds vs. Wichita State (Nov. 26), and he was strong again vs. UNI (Nov. 27), scoring 12 with two blocks, en route to Cancun Challenge All-Tournament Team honors.
> Kotsar returned to Columbia to pace Carolina with 17 points, nine rebounds and another two-block performance in the home win over George Washington (Dec. 1). He was near perfect from the field, hitting 8-of-9 attempts from the floor, and he also collected Carolina’s only steal in the game vs. the Colonials.
> Kotsar also led the Gamecocks with 35.4 minutes per game during the stretch.
> Kotsar snapped his double-figure streak at UMass, however, he scored nine points, pulled down a team high nine rebounds, dished five assists and had three steals in 27 minutes of action. He also collected a crucial lose ball late in the contest on the defensive end.
> With a 12-point performance vs. Houston, Kotsar tallied his sixth game this season in double-figures (five games in double-figures last season).
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
> Clemson is 5-4 this season and 0-2 in ACC contests, having suffered losses to Virginia Tech and at Florida State.
> The Tigers are led by head coach Brad Brownell in his 10th season.
> Grad transfer Tevin Mack, who previously played at Alabama, paces the team with 13.8 points per outing, and Aamir Simms adds 11.3 points and a team high 8.0 rebounds per game.
> The Tigers average 43.8 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range. Clemson attempts 25.6 shots from beyond the arc per game, connecting on an average of 8.8 per outing.
> In home games, Clemson is 4-1, its only loss the season opener vs. Virginia Tech on Nov. 5.
> Clemson has lost three-straight (vs. Colorado, at Minnesota, at Florida State) entering Sunday’s game.
NOTES TO KNOW
> South Carolina is led by eighth-year head coach Frank Martin. Martin, the 2017 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, owns a 252-164 record in his 13th season as a head coach, and a 135-110 record in his eighth season at Carolina.
> Joining Martin on the sidelines is a veteran staff, including assistant coaches Perry Clark (seventh season), Chuck Martin (third season) and Bruce Shingler (fourth season), director of basketball operations Andy Assaley (eighth season) and strength and conditioning coach Scott Greenawalt (eighth season), and several support staff members.
> South Carolina returns a core group from last season’s squad, while welcoming seven newcomers to Columbia, including five freshmen – Trey Anderson, Jalyn McCreary, Trae Hannibal, Wildens Leveque and Mike Green, transfer Seventh Woods (North Carolina/not eligible this season due to NCAA transfer rules) and graduate transfer Micaiah Henry (Tennessee Tech/immediately eligible).
> Carolina’s top returning scorer, and 2019 SEC All-Freshman Team honoree, is sophomore guard AJ Lawson, who scored 13.4 points per outing last season, while dishing 2.9 assists per game. Over the summer, Lawson competed for Team Canada at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece, leading the Canadians with 16.7 points per outing, including an event-high 31 points vs. Senegal.
> R-junior guard Jair Bolden, who was unable to play last season due to NCAA transfer rules (transferred in the summer of 2018 after playing two seasons at George Washington), will bring veteran leadership and proven scoring ability to the court this season for Carolina, as the Brooklyn, N.Y., native averaged 11.2 points per game as a sophomore for the Colonials, while also pacing the team with 98 assists on the season.
> In SEC action, the Gamecocks open league play on Jan. 7 at Colonial Life Arena against No. 6/6 Florida, while also hosting No. 2/2 Kentucky, No. 22/24 LSU, and No. -/25 Tennessee in conference play (rankings listed are preseason).
> South Carolina returns 43.9 percent of scoring from a year ago, 48.3 percent of its made field goals, and 45.7 percent of its rebounding, following the graduation of All-SEC forward Chris Silva, who led the Gamecocks with 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, and 150 made field goals last season.
> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson is Carolina’s top returning scorer after contributing 13.4 points per outing last season. Lawson, who was named to the Jerry West Award Watch List last month, posted 18 double-figure scoring games last season, including six 20-point performances.
> South Carolina improved to 83-29 all-time in season openers, and a perfect 8-0 under the direction of Frank Martin in season lidlifters, when the Gamecocks posted a 77-55 win over North Alabama Nov. 6 at Colonial Life Arena. Redshirt-sophomore forward Justin Minaya (17) and r-junior guard Jair Bolden (14) scored in double figures.
> R-freshman guard Jermaine Couisnard made his college debut vs. North Alabama, putting together a strong showing with nine points, four rebounds, two assists and a block in 22 minutes of action. Couisnard missed the exhibition vs. CIU on Oct. 30 due to illness.
> Carolina improved to 2-0 on the young season when it posted a 66-32 victory over Wyoming at Colonial Life Arena on Nov. 10. Four were in double figures for the Gamecocks, but the story of the game was the Carolina defense, which held Wyoming to just nine made field goals in the contest.
> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson and r-freshman guard Jermaine Couisnard each tallied 12 points to pace the Gamecocks in the win over the Cowboys. Sophomore forward Alanzo Frink netted a then-career best 10 points, and r-junior guard Jair Bolden added 11.
> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson hit seven buckets, including a pair of 3s, and was a career best 12-of-13 at the foul line to post a new career high 28 points in leading the Gamecocks over Cleveland State on Nov. 15 at Colonial Life Arena. Classmate Alanzo Frink posted the first double-double of his career as well, scoring 11 with 10 boards, including eight on the offensive glass.
> Despite three Gamecocks in double-figures, including a game-high 22 points from sophomore guard AJ Lawson, Boston U posted a 78-70 win over Carolina on Nov. 19 at Colonial Life Arena. The Terriers connected on nine made 3-pointers, and hit an opponent season high 42.2% (27-64) from the floor.
> The Gamecocks rebounded from their first loss of the season to post a 74-69 hard-fought win over visiting Gardner-Webb Nov. 22 at Colonial Life Arena. Five were in double-figures for the Gamecocks, led by rookie guard Jermaine Couisnard and sophomore guard AJ Lawson’s 16 points each. Senior forward Maik Kotsar (11), junior Jair Bolden (10) and sophomore Alanzo Frink (10) were also in double figures. It was the first time this season that five Gamecocks have reached double figures in a game.
> South Carolina suffered a 70-47 loss to Wichita State in its opening neutral-site game at the Cancun Challenge on Nov. 26 at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. Senior forward Maik Kotsar was the only player in double figures for Carolina, finishing with 12 points. He also had seven rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks in a team-high 36 minutes.
> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson scored 20 points, his third 20+ outing of the season, against UNI (Nov. 27). Lawson connected on his first four shot attempts in the game, and finished with eight made field goals, matching his career high.
> Senior forward Maik Kotsar was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Cancun Challenge, after scoring 12 points in each matchup at the event.
> Carolina snapped its two-game losing streak when it posted a 74-65 victory over George Washington on Dec. 1 in Columbia. Senior forward Maik Kotsar continued his stretch of strong play, leading the Gamecocks with 17 points and 9 rebounds, pushing his double-figure scoring streak to five-straight games, the longest such stretch of his career.
> An 84-80 win at UMass marked the first road victory of the season for the Gamecocks Dec. 4 in Amherst. Sophomore forward Keyshawn Bryant made his season debut, scoring 13 points, and guard Jermaine Couisnard matched his season high with 16 points, as the duo provided a spark on both ends of the court off the bench in the win.
> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson posted his fourth 20-point game of the season with a game-high 24 on eight bade baskets and six made free throws in the win at UMass.
43.9% – South Carolina returns 43.9 percent of its scoring from last season following the departure of All-SEC forward Chris Silva, who led Carolina with a total of 486 points – 15.2 points per game – last season.
17/11 – In his return to the court for the first time in almost a year after missing the final 27 games of last season due to injury, r-sophomore forward Justin Minaya posted team highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds for the first double-double of his career vs. North Alabama on Nov. 6.
23 – Sophomore guard AJ Lawson led Carolina in its lone exhibition contest with a team high 23 points. Lawson connected on 7-of-11 attempts from the floor, including a trio of 3-pointers.
32 – Carolina held Wyoming to just 32 points in the non-conference matchup on Nov. 10. The mark was the lowest opponent point total during the seven+ seasons under Coach Martin.
12 – Rookie forward Wildens Leveque was a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line for the first double-digit outing of his career, as he posted 12 points in Carolina’s Nov. 15 win over Cleveland State.
7 – Carolina committed just seven turnovers in the win over Gardner-Webb. It was the fewest this season, and tied for the fifth-fewest under the direction of head coach Frank Martin.
500 – Senior forward Maik Kotsar recorded the 500th rebound of his career in the win over Gardner-Webb on Nov. 22. Of his 534 career boards, 204 of those – 38.2 percent – are offensive rebounds. The senior big had a crucial offensive rebound tip-out in the win over Gardner-Webb with just 21 seconds remaining and the Gamecocks up two. Junior guard Jair Bolden collected the tip-out, and sank a free throw to push the Gamecock lead to three points with 15 seconds to play.
29 – Carolina forced 29 Cleveland State turnovers in the matchup vs. the Vikings on Nov. 15. That mark was the most ever by a Gamecock squad under the direction of Frank Martin, and ties for the third-most all-time by a Carolina team (happened three other times, most recently vs. ETSU on Nov. 24, 2002).
38.8% – South Carolina is holding opponents to just 38.8 percent from the field through the first 10 games of the season. That mark is fifth in the SEC and 56th nationally.
250 – South Carolina head coach Frank Martin captured the 250th win of his celebrated career in the win over Gardner-Webb on Nov. 22. Martin’s team won 117 games at Kansas State, and his Gamecocks have captured 134 victories.
COMING UP NEXT
> Carolina will face another ACC opponent on the road next Sunday when the Gamecocks travel to face defending national champion No. 9/8 Virginia in Charlottesville. The contest will be broadcast on ABC and will tip at 3 p.m. ET, at John Paul Jones Arena.