AFTER A RELATIVELY healthy season, South Carolina’s basketball team has three starters nursing injuries.
Starting shooting forward Lakeem Jackson will miss the next three games to rest a sore foot, USC coach Darrin Horn said Monday.
Starting point guard Bruce Ellington did not practice Monday after bruising his calf in the loss to Georgia on Saturday. USC’s leading scorer should practice Tuesday and play at Tennessee on Wednesday, the coach said.
Ellington limped through much of the Georgia game after hurting his leg. The freshman was held to a career-low two points, though Horn credited him for how well he ran the team.
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Starting power forward Damontre Harris’ knee is still stiff after being knocked in practice on Friday. He played against Georgia and is expected to play against the Volunteers.
The injuries come at a crucial time for the Gamecocks, who have lost five of their past six games to settle at the bottom of the SEC East Division at 4-6.
Jackson has had a sore foot for several weeks. He rested for a week in late January, missing the Auburn game.
Jackson came back to play in the next four games, but was limited to 3.5 points and 4.8 rebounds a contest. He averages 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds a game this season. In his last game against Georgia, he scored four points and grabbed a rebound in 20 minutes.
The team medical staff recommended Jackson get extended rest, Horn said. He will miss games at Tennessee and Kentucky this week and at home versus Ole Miss on Feb. 22. The sophomore is expected to return for the Feb. 26 contest at Georgia.
There was no word on who will take Jackson’s spot in the starting lineup.
Guard Ramon Galloway replaced Jackson when he sat out Auburn game. The sophomore started three more games after that in place of a slumping Brian Richardson. But Richardson started against Georgia.
Still a fluke
Horn said Monday he had no explanations behind USC’s nine-point first half against Georgia on Saturday that he has called “an absolute fluke.” He said Monday that has never seen anything like it in 20 years of playing and coaching college basketball.
“There’s no correcting a nine-point first half,” Horn said. The half was USC’s lowest scoring in SEC play.
Instead, the coach said he’s trying to build off the momentum that South Carolina held a more veteran Georgia squad to 28 points in the first half and how the Gamecocks scored 47 points in the second half with chances to tie the Bulldogs.
“We came into the game lacking confidence with our young team, and I think it spoke volumes that we played the way we did,” he said.
Pearls of wisdom
There’s been an adjustment period as Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl returned to coaching games last week after an eight-game league suspension.
The Volunteers lost road contests in Kentucky and Florida. Pearl will coach his first home game since Jan. 5 on Wednesday versus USC.
“Me getting back to driving that bus has been a big distraction to everyone,” Pearl said Monday. “It took a big toll on us. The knowledge of where we are as a team is one thing in practice; it’s another to get to know how your team is in games.”