Gamecocks At Vanderbilt Saturday In Regular Season Finale
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (18-12, 10-7 SEC) travels to face Vanderbilt (10-20, 2-15) in the regular season finale for both schools on Saturday in Nashville. Tip time for the contest is set for 12:30 p.m. ET from Memorial Gym.
ARENA: Memorial Gym (12,316)
Broadcast: SEC Network
Play-By-Play: Richard Cross
Analyst: Mark Wise
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network
In Columbia: 107.5 The Game
Play-By-Play: Derek Scott
Analyst: Casey Manning
SIRIUS: – | XM: 384 | INTERNET: 974
Watch: WatchESPN/ESPN App
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
Tickets: Arena box office
Series: Vandy leads, 30-29
In Nashville: Vandy leads 17-11
Trend: Carolina has won three straight
Last Game: 90-64 Carolina win on Jan. 25, 2020, in Columbia
> South Carolina travels to face Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale for both schools on Saturday in Nashville. The meeting is the second between the two schools this season, as Carolina posted a 90-64 win over the Commodores on Jan. 25 in Columbia.
> The Gamecocks captured their 10th win of the SEC campaign and improved their overall record to 18-12 with an 83-71 win over Mississippi State on Tuesday at Colonial Life Arena. Maik Kotsar was the star on Senior Night, leading Carolina with 20 points, while also dishing four assists with a steal in 37 minutes of action.
> Sophomore guard Keyshawn Bryant broke his streak of double-doubles vs. the Bulldogs, but he scored 12 and pulled down a team high seven rebounds. Over his last five games, he is averaging 14.2 points and a team high 8.4 rebounds per outing.
> The Gamecocks recently suffered a 90-86 loss at Alabama last Saturday. Sophomore forward Keyshawn Bryant posted his third consecutive double-double with career highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds. AJ Lawson (17), Jermaine Couisnard (12) and Alanzo Frink (10) were also in double figures.
> Carolina made eight more field goals than the Crimson Tide in the contest, but Alabama connected on 33-of-47 attempts at the free throw line, including 4-of-6 at the line in the final minute of action.
> Kotsar scored the 1,000th point of his career at Alabama.
> Carolina’s six road wins are one shy of Kentucky’s seven for the most in the SEC, and are the most by a Gamecock squad since the 2016-17 Final Four team also had six road wins.
> Senior forward Maik Kotsar made the 117th start of his career vs. LSU, taking sole possession of second place all-time in career starts at Carolina. Gamecock great Sindarius Thornwell leads the category with 132 career starts.
> Since the beginning of the 2016 SEC campaign, Carolina is 33-12 (.733) in conference home contests. The Gamecocks were 7-2 in SEC home games in 2020.
> In its 18 wins, the Carolina defense is holding opponents to just 36.3 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from 3-point range.
> Martin is 33-45 (.435) against ranked opponents as a head coach. His teams have four wins over opponents ranked in the top five, and two wins over opponents who are ranked No. 1.
> The Gamecocks are 6-5 on the road this season, and are 28-38 (42.4%) in road contests dating back to the 2014-15 campaign.
THIS AND THAT
> R-junior guard Jair Bolden has hit at least two 3-pointers in five of the last six games, connecting on 12-of-24 (50%) attempts from beyond the arc during the stretch.
> Kotsar has hit at least seven baskets in nine games this season.
> Lawson has registered an assist in 24 contests this season.
> Bolden is just one assist away from 200 for his career.
> Carolina’s 11.87 offensive rebounds per game rank fifth in the SEC and 44th nationally.
AN INSIDE LOOK AT CAROLINA’S SCHEDULE
> South Carolina is 63 in the NET (March 6) entering Saturday’s contest vs. Vandy.
> The Gamecocks are 3-8 in Q1 games and 6-2 in Q2 contests.
> Two of Carolina’s Q1 wins came on the road, at Virginia and at Arkansas.
> The Gamecocks have won six road games, with three of those coming in conference contests (at Texas A&M, at Arkansas, at Georgia). Carolina’s other road wins came at UMass, at Clemson and at Virginia.
THROUGH 30 GAMES …
> Sophomore guard AJ Lawson paces the Gamecocks with 13.6 points per game. Lawson also has a team high 57 3-pointers on the year and is dishing out 1.9 assists per game.
> Kotsar is 21 rebounds away from cracking the top 10 all time in the category. He sits at 663 for his career, and Gamecock great Sindarius Thornwell is in the 10th position with 684 career rebounds.
> The Gamecocks are holding opponents to just 39.2 percent from the floor, which is second in the SEC and 19th nationally.
> Carolina has dished at least 13 assists in 23 games, including an SEC season high 22 in the Jan. 18 road win at Texas A&M, and again vs. Georgia on Feb. 26.
> R-freshman guard Jermaine Couisnard is averaging a team high 3.2 assists per game. He has 24 games this season with two or more assists and dished a career high 10 in the home win over Mississippi State (March 3). Couisnard is eighth in the SEC with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5.
> Carolina has held its opponent to less than 40 percent from the field on 13 occassions, including holding Wyoming to 23.1 percent and only nine made field goals.
> The Gamecocks are 16-3 in games in which they lead at the half.
> Lawson (57), Bolden (47) and Couisnard (35) combine to account for 139 of Carolina’s 173 3-pointers on the year, 80.3 percent.
THE DEFENSE SHINES
> Frank Martin teams are known for their tenacious defense and the 2019-20 team is on the mark. Below are some defensive notes:
• The Gamecocks are second in the league and rank 19th nationally, holding opponents to just 39.2% from the field.
• From 3-point range, opponents have hit just 191-of-640 attempts (29.8%/4th in the SEC/29th nationally)
• Carolina is forcing 15.57 turnovers per contest, second in the SEC and 41st in the nation.
• Carolina has held 13 opponents to under 40% from the field and five of those under 30%.
• 15 Gamecock opponents were held to under 30% from the field from 3-point range.
• 11 opponents have been held to under 20 made field goals.
• 15 opponents have committed 15+ turnovers.
• Carolina is sixth in the SEC (overall games) with 4.3 blocks per game, second with 7.7 steals and second with a +2.6 turnover margin.
• Individually, Kotsar is tied for seventh with 1.5 steals per game and he is just outside of the top 10 with 1.06 blocks per outing.
• The Gamecocks rank in the national top 60 in blocks (57), steals (56), turnovers forced (41) per game.
KOTSAR CONTINUES STRONG SENIOR CAMPAIGN
> Senior forward Maik Kotsar is having a career year in his senior season.
> Kotsar has led or shared the team lead in scoring 10 times this season, including in six of Carolina’s SEC games. He has also scored in double figures a career high 20 times.
> Kotsar is had career-best streak of nine straight games scoring in double figures (scored only eight at Alabama on Feb. 29). During the stretch, Kotsar averaged 15.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.9 steals per game.
> In SEC games, Kotsar is averaging 12.6 points, 6.7 rebounds (10th in the SEC), 1.5 steals (t-6th) and 1.1 blocks per game.
> Kotsar continues to be the SEC’s active leader with 663 career rebounds, and he is third among active players, and the leading forward with 132 career steals.
> Kotsar is nine steals away from matching Gamecock great Carlos Powell in career steals for 10th all time in the Garnet and Black (141).
> Kotsar is one of only two in the SEC (conference games only) to be ranked in the top 10 in both rebounds (6.7 per game/10th in the SEC) and steals (team high 1.5 per outing/t-6th).
> Kotsar is the only player in the country 6-10 or taller with 40 or more steals on the year (NCAA statistics as of March 5).
• He is the only player in the SEC with 40+ steals and 30+ blocks (entering Saturday’s matchups).
MINAYA STRONG IN LEAGUE PLAY
> Prior to suffering a hand/wrist injury in the Feb. 1 Missouri contest, r-sophomore forward Justin Minaya was playing strong on both ends of the court for the Gamecocks in SEC action. In his eight league games, Minaya is averaging 8.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals per outing. He has four double-figure outings in SEC action, including a career high 18 points in the Jan. 18 road win at Texas A&M. Additionally his 31.1 minutes played in SEC games is a team high.
SCOUTING THE COMMODORES
> Vanderbilt is 10-20 overall and 2-15 in SEC contests.
> The Commodores are led by head coach Jerry Stackhouse in his first season.
> VU’s two league victories have come vs. LSU and at Alabama.
> At home, the Commodores are 9-10 this season.
> Saben Lee paces the team with 18.2 points per game, and also dishes out 4.3 assists per game.
> In league play, Lee averages 20.0 points and 4.1 assists per game.
> Lee scored a team high 38 points in the win at Alabama.
> Scotty Pippen Jr., is also in double figures in league action at 11.8 points per outing.
> South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is in his eighth season leading the Gamecocks and 13th season overall as a head coach in 2019-20. Martin, the 2017 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year (CollegeInsider.com), led South Carolina to its first Final Four and a school record 26 wins in 2016-17. In his 12 complete seasons as a head coach, Martin has led his teams to at least 21 wins seven times. Martin is a native of Miami, Fla., and a graduate of FIU.
> Prior to his time on the sidelines in the college ranks, Martin spent 15 years in high school coaching in Miami, Fla., including the last seven as a head coach. He was part of five state championships as an assistant at Miami Senior High School (1985-93), before earning two titles as the program’s head coach (1995-98). Higlighting Martin’s stint as the head coach of the program were consecutive 30-win seasons and consecutive Florida 6A State Championships in 1996 and 1997, with his 1997 squad earning a 36-1 overall record and ranking No. 4 in the USA Today Top 25 Poll. He also served as the head coach at North Miami Senior High School (1993-95) and one season at Booker T. Washington High School (1999-2000).
> Among active Division I head coaches, South Carolina’s Frank Martin holds the eighth-highest (tied with Villanova’s Jay Wright) NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.667) behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Texas Tech’s Chris Beard, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Kansas’ Bill Self and Virginia’s Tony Bennett.
KELLEY NAMED 2020 SEC LEGEND
> Gamecock great Tre’ Kelley has been named South Carolina’s 2020 SEC Legend for men’s basketball. Kelley was a 2007 All-SEC First Team member during his senior campaign, and was honored with the Frances Pomeroy Smith Award that same season.
> Kelley scored 1,488 points during his Gamecock career, and is third all-time at Carolina with 510 assists. He also holds the single season record with 38 starts during the 2006 campaign, when he led the Gamecocks to their second straight NIT Championship. Kelley led Carolina in assists each of his final three seasons in the Garnet and Black, dishing out a career high 174 during his junior season. Kelley earned All-SEC First-Team accolades in 2007 from both the coaches and media, and continues to thrive in his career playing professionally both abroad and in the United States.
> Kelley joins Legends from all 14 SEC institutions, and he will be honored at halftime of Carolina’s opening contest at the upcoming SEC Tournament in Nashville.
NELSON NAMED TO 2020 COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM
> South Carolina sophomore forward Nathan Nelson was named to the 2020 SEC Men’s Basketball Community Service Team.
> Nelson has participated in numerous community outreach initiatives during his time in the Garnet and Black. He has joined his teammates for the 8K Community Outreach Campaign during the summer months, participating in events at Sowing Seeds, the Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity and also visiting the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia. At Sowing Seeds, Nelson helped with a gardening project, and he and his teammates hosted a luau at the Ronald McDonald House at the Prisma Children’s Hospital during the Campaign. He has also spent time at the Salvation Army, at Harvest Hope Food Bank, with the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, at the YMCA and at a holiday event at Shaw Air Force Base for military members and their families.
> On the court this season, Nelson has seen action in 12 contests, and played a career high nine minutes in Carolina’s Feb. 15 home win over Tennessee. He scored the first points of his college career earlier this season in the victory over Wyoming.
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 264-172 record in his 13th season as a head coach, and a 146-118 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.
> 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.
> Carolina claimed a Palmetto Series point with a big road win over instrastate rival and ACC opponent Clemson Dec. 15 at Littlejohn Coliseum. The 67-54 victory snapped a three-game Tiger win streak in the series, and was Carolina’s first at Littlejohn since 2011.
> In that Clemson victory, sophomore guard AJ Lawson scored a team high 20, along with 11 from senior forward Maik Kotsar and 10 from r-junior guard Jair Bolden to round out the Gamecocks in double figures. The 20-point effort was the fifth of its kind this season for Lawson, who is 11th in the SEC and leads the squad with 16.3 points per outing thus far.
> Prior to the break for the holidays, Carolina upset No. 9 Virginia in Charlottesville with a 70-59 victory on Dec. 22. The win improved the Gamecocks to 3-0 on the road this season, and it snapped a 22-game home non-conference win streak for the Cavaliers.
> R-junior guard Jair Bolden led four Gamecocks in double figures vs. UVA with a season high 22 points on eight made field goals, including four makes from 3-point range. AJ Lawson (14), Justin Minaya (12) and Keyshawn Bryant (10) also posted double figures in the win.
> Rookie forward Jalyn McCreary posted the first double-figure scoring game of his career with 11 in the win vs. Vanderbilt.
> South Carolina picked up its third quadrant one win of the season with a 79-77 road victory at Arkansas on Jan. 29 night. The Gamecocks never trailed in the contest, and led by as many as 11 in the opening half. Arkansas pulled to within a point with 28 seconds remaining on a Mason Jones free throw, before Jermaine Couisnard hit one of his two attempts from the line to push the Carolina lead back to two with 26 seconds to play.
> Kotsar had a strong outing against the Rebels as well, especially in the first half when he scored 12 of his 19 points. Kotsar also led the Gamecocks in rebounds (8), blocks (3) and steals (3) on Wednesday.
> For his efforts Feb. 5 vs. Ole Miss, when he scored a season high 28 points, and his 19-point performance in last the Feb. 8 home win over A&M, Jermaine Couisnard was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season.
> South Carolina captured its sixth road win of the season when it defeated Georgia 75-59 in Athens on Feb. 12. The Gamecocks held the Bulldogs to just one field goal in the first 14 minutes of the game to build a double-digit lead they would never give up. Sophomore guard AJ Lawson led four Gamecocks in double figures with a game high 20 points.
> A crucial steal, followed by four straight makes at the free throw line in the final 23 seconds by senior forward Maik Kotsar would be the difference in Carolina’s 63-61 home win over Tennessee on Feb. 15. Kotsar led the Gamecocks with 13 points and eight rebounds, and the senior secured Carolina’s eighth SEC win of the season.
> The numbers show just how close of a contest it was vs. the Vols – both teams with 20 baskets, both with four 3-pointers, and the difference was Carolina’s 19 makes at the charity stripe compared to 17 by the Vols. Kotsar was 7-of-8 at the line for Carolina and R-freshman guard Jermaine Couisnard was 7-of-11, as the duo accounted for 14 of Carolina’s makes at the line.
> South Carolina saw its three-game win streak halted when it suffered a 79-76 loss at Mississippi State (Feb. 19). Senior forward Maik Kotsar scored a season high 24 points – just one shy of matching his career high – on a career high 11 made field goals vs. the Bulldogs. Jermaine Couisnard (17) and AJ Lawson (12) were also in double figures in the loss.
> Five Gamecocks scored in double figures for just the second time in SEC play in the matchup vs. LSU, however, the Tigers withheld a late Gamecock rally to close the 86-80 win on Feb. 22 in Coumbia. Carolina was held to just 37.3 percent (28-75) from the floor, and LSU hit 25-of-31 (80.6%) attempts at the free throw line in the win.
> R-junior guard Jair Bolden hit a trio of 3-pointers off the bench vs. LSU, scoring 15 points in 19 minutes of action. It marked Bolden’s 14th double-figure scoring outing of the season, and his 13th game this season with multiple makes from 3-point range.
> Carolina scored a season high 94 points in the overtime victory vs. Georgia at Colonial Life Arena on Feb. 26. The contest snapped a two-game losing streak for the Gamecocks, and secured the season sweep over the Bulldogs.
> Six Gamecocks scored in double figures, including all five in the starting lineup vs. UGA. Sophomore forward Alanzo Frink was nearly unstoppable underneath the basket, connecting on 8-of-10 attempts, along with a 6-of-9 mark at the free throw line for a career high 22 in the win. Senior forward Maik Kotsar (19 points/10 rebounds) and sophomore forward Keyshawn Bryant (16 points/10 rebounds) both collected a double-double in the contest.
51 – Dating back to the 2016 SEC campaign, Carolina has 51 conference victories entering this Saturday’s regular-season finale at Vanderbilt. Only Kentucky (68) and Florida (54) have more during that stretch, and Tennessee also has 51. The Gamecocks have reached double-figure conference wins in four of those seasons, including 10 thus far in 2020.
10 – R-freshman guard Jermaine Couisnard dished a career high 10 assists in the home win over Miss. State on Tuesday. It is the most assists in a game by a Gamecock since Devan Downey dished out 11 vs. LSU in the SEC Tournament in 2008.
7 – Carolina committed just seven turnovers in vs. MSU on Tuesday, with zero committed from Couisnard and Lawson.
10+ – Depth is a strength for Carolina this season, and 11 different Gamecocks are averaging at least 10 minutes per contest.
70+ – SC is 14-6 this season when it scores 70+ points.
> South Carolina debuted its throwback jerseys for the first time this season for the Dec. 8 matchup vs. Houston. Fans can visit the official online store at GamecocksOnline.com to purchase the full line of throwback gear.
> The uniforms are inspired by the look of the uniforms from the 1970’s era of Gamecock basketball.
> The Gamecocks got their first win in their throwback uniforms in the upset victory over No. 10/12 Kentucky on January 15.
COMING UP NEXT
> South Carolina awaits final seeding for next week’s SEC Tournament, which is set for March 11-15 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Continue to visit GamecocksOnline.com for updates.