Gamecocks at Vandy Tuesday for SEC Opener
Jenny Dilworth/South Carolina Athletics
Tipoff slated for 7 p.m. (ET) on SEC Network
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (7-6) begins league action on Tuesday night in Nashville, squaring off with Vanderbilt (7-6) at Memorial Gym.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) on SEC Network with Roy Philpott (pxp) and Mark Wise (analyst) on the call.
Head coach Lamont Paris is seeking to become the first coach in program history to win his first SEC road opener. The Gamecocks joined the league in 1991-92.
Matchup: South Carolina at Vanderbilt (Commodores lead all-time series, 32-31)
Time: Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.
Venue: Memorial Gym (14,316)
> A New Chapter of Gamecock Men’s Basketball is underway with first-year head coach Lamont Paris this season.
> Paris, who has been a part of nine NCAA Division I Tournaments and 17 twenty-win seasons as a college head and assistant coach, was named the University of South Carolina’s 33rd head coach by Director of Athletics Ray Tanner on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
> This new-look Gamecock squad features eight new players (four transfers and four freshman) headlined by standout freshman forward Gregory “GG” Jackson II, the highest rated recruit in program history (recruit rankings started in early 2000s). He joined former Carolina standout PJ Dozier (2015-17) as the only five-star signees in program history.
> Jackson II is currently one of two freshmen in the country averaging at least 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Alabama’s Brandon Miller (19.2 points, 8.8 rebounds) is the only other player on the list. Jackson’s 17.2 points per game average is second nationally amongst freshmen behind only Miller (through games played Jan. 1).
GG WAS HITTIN’ FROM THREE
> GG Jackson scored a career-high 24 points in the team’s 74-64 win over Emoni Bates and Eastern Michigan in the non-conference finale. He made a career-high four 3s and also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Carolina had its best first half of the season, scoring 40 points while shooting 54.8 percent (17-of-31) in building a double-digit advantage over the Eagles. The Gamecocks were dominate on the glass again with a 46-30 advantage. Chico Carter Jr. has 15 points and was an efficient 6-of-7 from the floor. Meechie Johnson had 10 to extend his double-figure scoring streak to six games. Carolina finished the non-conference slate a perfect 6-0 at CLA.
MEECHIE ON THE NICE LIST
> Meechie Johnson scored a career-high 25 points, going 6-of-11 from downtown, in a 65-58 victory over Western Kentucky (Dec. 22) right before Christmas. He had 15 points in the first half after going 5-of-8 from behind the arc. GG Jackson pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds (most by a Gamecock since Chris Silva had 17 at A&M on 3/5/19) and added 12 points for his second double-double of the season. The Gamecocks pulled down a season-high 51 rebounds and also limited the Hilltoppers to just 36.4 percent shooting and 20 made field goals, both season lows for opponents. WKU came into the game fourth in the nation in 3-point shooting at 42.1 percent. The Gamecocks limited the Hilltoppers to just 13.6 percent (3-of-22) from distance.
GRINDIN’ IT OUT
> After trailing by three, 44-41, with just over 12 minutes to go, South Carolina took control thanks to a 14-0 run over a 6-minute stretch to defeat Presbyterian, 68-57, on Sunday, Dec. 11. The Gamecocks moved to 4-0 at home with the win. Freshman GG Jackson led the way again with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Junior Meechie Johnson added 16 points while graduate transfer Hayden Brown had 14 points. The Gamecocks are 2-0 when the trio scores in double figures. Junior big Josh Gray added valuable minutes off the bench with a team-high seven rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
> Carolina bounced back from a tough road loss to start its two-game D.C. road swing with a 74-71 overtime victory at Georgetown (Dec. 3). Meechie Johnson made the go-ahead, 3-point basket with 25 seconds to go. He had a career day with 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds – all career highs. GG Jackson scored a team-high 22 points (9-for-19 FGs), all coming in the second half after going 0-for-5 the first 20 minutes. The Gamecocks trailed by 11 at the half. In the second half and overtime, South Carolina combined to shoot 20-of-37 (54.1 percent) from the field. The Gamecocks were 15-for-21 (71.4 percent) on 2-point shots in the second half and overtime combined. It was the team’s first true road win and first win away from Colonial Life Arena this season.
HOME SWEET HOME
> The Gamecocks snapped a three-game skid with a big comeback victory at home, 68-53, over USC Upstate on Black Friday (Nov. 25). Trailing by three at halftime, Carolina dominated the final 20 minutes, outscoring the Spartans 40-22 in the second half. The Gamecocks shot 58.1 percent (18-for-31) in half two. Freshman sensation Gregory “GG” Jackson II scored a career-high 22 points with an efficient 8-for-14 shooting day, including 3-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. Carolina was shorthanded, missing two starters in Chico Carter Jr. and Meechie Johnson. Sophomore Jacobi Wright and freshman Zachary Davis started in their place. Wright had 10 points and Davis had seven points and four rebounds. Davis and Jackson in the starting five marked the first time since Nov. 30, 2018 two freshmen cracked the starting lineup (Keyshawn Bryant and AJ Lawson) for Carolina.
TOUGH TRIP TO THE LOWCOUNTRY
> South Carolina was handed three tough losses to a trio of good teams in the Charleston Classic vs. Colorado State (Nov. 17), Davidson (Nov. 18) and Furman (Nov. 20). Turnovers and poor shooting plagued the Gamecocks at TD Arena. Freshman GG Jackson continued his strong start, averaging 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 46.7 percent (21-for-45). Chico Carter Jr. had a pair of strong performances with 26 points vs. Davidson and 17 points vs. Furman. He was 10-for-16 from behind the arc in the tournament (62.5 percent).
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT HIM – JACKSON II EARNS SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
> Forward Gregory “GG” Jackson II was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday, Nov. 14, after leading the Gamecocks to a pair of wins the first week of the season. He averaged 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.
CASH MONEY CARTER CLOSES OUT TIGERS IN RIVALRY MATCHUP AT CLA
> Chico Carter Jr. went the length of the floor and made a contested jumper with 0.9 seconds left to lead South Carolina to victory over in-state rival Clemson, 60-58. The Columbia, S.C., native scored a game-high 16 points and went 4-of-6 from deep. Gregory “GG” Jackson II had 12 points and eight rebounds. Jacobi Wright added 10 points off the bench and Josh Gray contributed with a game-high 10 rebounds and three blocks. It marked the team’s first win at home vs. the Tigers since a 68-45 victory on Dec. 19, 2014. New head coach Lamont Paris became the first Gamecock coach since Dave Odom (won 81-59 on 12/8/01 at Clemson) to defeat Clemson in his first season.
NEWCOMERS SHINE NIGHT ONE
> The team opened the season with an 80-77 victory over SC State on Tuesday night led by the oldest player on the team, graduate transfer Hayden Brown, and the youngest player on the team, freshman Gregory “GG” Jackson II ; Brown had 21 to lead all scorers and Jackson had 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for his first career double-double ; sophomore Jacobi Wright had a career-high 14 points after going 3-for-5 behind the arc in the first victory of the Lamont Paris era.
FIRST LOOK AT NEW CHAPTER OF GAMECOCK MEN’S HOOPS
> Carolina began the season with an 80-41 exhibition win over Mars Hill on Nov. 2 at CLA. Meechie Johnson led all scorers in the contest with 16 points. Chico Carter Jr. (13), GG Jackson (11) and Zachary Davis (10) all scored in double figures for Carolina. Benjamin-Bosmans Verdonk led the team with 12 rebounds. The Gamecock defense limited the Lions to just 27.9 percent shooting (17-for-61) and 6.3 percent (1-for-16) shooting from behind the arc. Carolina outscored Mars Hill 44-20 in the second half.
> The Lions were led by first-year head coach Larry Davis, a former Gamecock great (1995-97) and one of the stars on the 1997 SEC Championship squad. His two-year scoring mark of 1,068 points still remains the second most points scored by any two-year player in program history. Davis originally attended North Carolina before transferring to South Carolina and head coach Eddie Fogler.
PARIS WELCOMES TWO PALMETTO PRODUCTS ON SIGNING DAY
> Arden Conyers and Collin Murray-Boyles, both Palmetto State products, each signed National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers as Gamecocks in the fall of 2023 on Nov. 9 as a part of the early signing period. They’re the first high school signees in Garnet & Black under Paris’ watch at Carolina. Conyers, a 6-6, 180-pound guard from Blythewood, S.C., is the third ranked player in the state per 247Sports and No. 4 by On3.com. He ranks just outside the top-200 nationally. An all-region pick last season at Westwood High School, he averaged 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for the Redhawks. He will hit the 1,000-career point mark in his senior season. He was recently named one of five to the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association (SCBA) Elite Boys Preseason Team. Murray-Boyles, a 6-7, 200-pound forward from Columbia, S.C. is the third-ranked player in the state and No. 117 in his class via On3.com. He is set to finish his high school career this winter at Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah after prepping at AC Flora the past three seasons. He helped lead the Falcons to a 24-7 record as a junior and appearance in the state title game. Murray-Boyles averaged 18.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.3 blocks and 2.5 assists per game last season at Flora. His older brother played collegiately at UNC Pembroke.
ORDER ON THE COURT
> The Honorable L. Casey Manning enters his 30th season as an analyst for men’s basketball games on the Gamecock Radio Network. He joined the broadcast team for the 1993-94 season and worked alongside legendary South Carolina play-by-play man Bob Fulton. Manning has worked alongside current play-by-play man Derek Scott since 2016-17. The Gamecocks advanced to the school’s first ever Final Four their first year working together. Manning, a Dillon, S.C. native, played for the Gamecocks from 1970-73 and made history as the first African-American scholarship player in program history. He graduated from the South Carolina School of Law in 1977 and has served as Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Judicial Court since 1994. Manning will retire on Dec. 31 this year.
> He joins Dave Kellum (33rd season as Ole Miss pxp) as the only members of the 30-year club on radio broadcast in the SEC.
WATCH LIST SZN
> GG Jackson was one of 20 players in the country to be named to the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award Watch List on Oct. 27, 2022. He joined former Gamecock Chris Silva (2015-19) as the only Carolina players on the watch list in the nine-year history of the award.
BY THE NUMBERS
6-0 – Carolina finished the non-conference slate a perfect 6-0 at CLA.
50.9% – Chico Carter Jr. is 28-of-55 from behind the arc, good for a team-leading 50.9 percent field goal percentage from distance.
24 – GG Jackson scored a career-high 24 points in a 74-64 win vs. Eastern Michigan (Dec. 30). He knocked down a career-high four 3s.
51 – The Gamecocks had a season-high 51 rebounds vs. WKU (Dec. 22). It’s the second time the team has had 50-plus rebounds this season.
16 – GG Jackson pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds in a win over WKU (Dec. 22). It was the most rebounds in a game by a Gamecock since Chris Silva had 17 boards on March 5, 2019 in a victory at Texas A&M. Jackson added 12 points in the game for his team leading second double-double.
4-0 – South Carolina is 4-0 this season in games with 10 or fewer turnovers.
20 – Gregory “GG” Jackson II has five 20-point performances on his resume so far this season. He’s scored in double-figures in all 13 games this season (only freshman in the country to score 10+ every game) and has led the team in scoring seven times.
3.7 – Meechie Johnson is currently averaging 3.7 assists per game (T-7th in the SEC). The last Gamecock to average 4.0 or more assists per game was Devan Downey (4.5) during the 2008-09 season.
50 – South Carolina had 50 rebounds vs. Clemson (Nov. 11), the first 50+ rebound game for the Gamecocks vs. a Power Five opponent since pulling down 52 vs. Alabama (Feb. 7, 2017), a game that went four overtime periods.
6 & 7 – Gregory “GG” Jackson II, a Columbia native, steps on campus ranked No. 6 in the final 247Sports and No. 7 in the final On3 player rankings for the 2022 class after reclassifying from 2023 over the summer.
18 & 10 – Jackson got his career going in emphatic fashion with 18 points and 10 rebounds in his debut as a Gamecock, an 80-77 win over SC State (Nov. 8) in the opener at CLA.
1,402 – Graduate transfer Hayden Brown scored 1,402 career points for The Citadel over five seasons, which is the seventh-most in program history.
2 – Brown is one of two players in The Citadel’s history to score 1,400 points and collect 700 rebounds in his career. A 6-5, 234-pound forward, he averaged 18.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in 2021-22.
.691 – New head coach Lamont Paris spent the past five seasons as head coach at Chattanooga. He led the team to a 65-29 record the last three seasons and a berth in the 2022 NCAA Tournament after winning the SoCon Tournament Championship.
12 – Paris was an assistant for 17 seasons prior to becoming a head coach in 2017-18. He was a part of 12 NCAA Tournament appearances as an assistant (NCAA Division I and II), including a pair of Final Fours at Wisconsin in 2014 and 2015.
17 – In 22 seasons as a head or assistant coach in college, Paris has been a part of 17 teams that have won 20-or-more games in a season.
8 – Carolina’s roster features eight new players, including four transfers: Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk (Illinois), Hayden Brown (The Citadel), Ebrima Dibba (Coastal Carolina) and Meechie Johnson (Ohio State).
> Carolina welcomes in No. 8/10 Tennessee (11-2, 1-0 SEC) to Colonial Life Arena for the team’s first league game on its home floor. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m. (ET) on SEC Network with Kevin Fitzgerald(pxp) and Mark Wise (analyst) on the call.