Their hottest shooter of late and their most talented player on the bench through most of the game, South Carolina could have trembled and been taken out.
Instead, the Gamecocks kept growing up.
USC survived without senior Brenton Williams and freshman Sindarius Thornwell on Monday, getting contributions from everybody as the Gamecocks won their third straight, 92-65 against Marshall, and evened their record. The Gamecocks (6-6), hit by early foul trouble and unable to contain the Thundering Herds assault on the rim, didnt need a takeover player or a slowdown tactic.
They needed each man to do what he could until halftime. If they had to trail at the break, so be it, but just keep it close.
Instead, they led by five at the half, and even with Williams and Thornwell back on the bench in the second half, stretched the lead to as much as 27. USC countered Marshalls speed with its own and showed that it doesnt need a superstar player if everybody can do their job.
I was worried about this matchup today because of what you saw, coach Frank Martin said. Theyre extremely athletic, and they attack you. We didnt wilt. Earlier in the year, we wilted.
Williams, playing with foul trouble, scored 18 points. Ty Johnson shook off a cold start to finish with 18. Twelve players scored, and four were in double figures. USC collected 19 assists on 34 field goals to overcome 32 fouls resulting in 46 Marshall free throws.
That was the way the game went early as the Gamecocks starters were being stapled to their seats as the Herd kept shooting free throws. But Marshall (5-8) couldnt make enough to make the game close, and when USC got to the line, it mostly made the shots (18-of-25).
Then the defense tightened. Martin said the ball-screen stops may have been the best hes seen in his six-plus years as a head coach, and the paint again opened. With Martin stressing that the lane is where the game is, the Gamecocks scored another 54 points in the paint, giving them 134 their past three games.
He just told us to keep attacking, freshman forward Demetrius Henry said. We got great players on the team. when one player goes out, another can step in.
Henry scored 12 points, looking more and more comfortable playing with his back to the basket instead of settling for jumpers. Desmond Ringer scored four points but had seven rebounds in 14 minutes. Michael Carrera continued his strong play of late with eight points and five boards, and Duane Notice added 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Thats what team basketballs about, Martin said. You got to have that, man. You cant win without that kind of enthusiasm.
Note: Williams made his 42nd consecutive free throw, dating to last year, with about nine minutes remaining. It broke a tie with John Roche for the school record.
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Goard 1-3 2-4 4, Taylor 6-11 5-8 18, Canty 2-15 7-8 11, Thomas 3-6 4-9 10, Boykins 0-1 1-3 1, Smith 4-6 11-15 19, Sane 1-1 0-0 2, Manning 0-1 0-0 0, Mbao 0-0 0-0 0, Loop 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 30-47 65.
SOUTH CAROLINA (6-6)
Henry 6-7 0-0 12, Kacinas 2-5 0-0 4, Thornwell 1-3 1-2 3, Williams 7-11 1-1 18, Notice 4-8 4-5 13, Johnson 6-10 4-6 18, Shaw 0-2 4-4 4, Constable 0-2 0-0 0, Chatkevicius 1-3 0-0 2, Theus Jr. 1-2 1-4 3, McKie 1-3 1-2 3, Carrera 3-4 2-2 8, Ringer 2-4 0-0 4, Steele 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 34-66 18-26 92.
Halftime_South Carolina 36-31. 3-Point Goals_Marshall 1-14 (Taylor 1-2, Manning 0-1, Loop 0-1, Smith 0-1, Thomas 0-3, Canty 0-6), South Carolina 6-12 (Williams 3-5, Johnson 2-2, Notice 1-2, McKie 0-1, Steele 0-1, Constable 0-1). Fouled Out_Henry, Steele, Taylor, Thomas. Rebounds_Marshall 27 (Taylor 5), South Carolina 44 (Ringer 7). Assists_Marshall 9 (Canty, Thomas 3), South Carolina 19 (Notice 6). Total Fouls_Marshall 26, South Carolina 32. A_7,935.