It’s not like it’s really a break. South Carolina gets more than a week off after hosting Florida International on Sunday, but it has to spend that time studying for and taking exams.
But it will be a chance to take a breath, look around. The Gamecocks are 7-0 and ranked 20th. They could be 8-0 before heading back to New York on Dec. 12 to face Seton Hall.
Coach Frank Martin sees room for improvement.
“Our post defense is atrocious. We got to get better,” Martin said after USC’s Thursday win over Vermont. “Those guys have got to get better defending the low post.”
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He mentioned the disparity in reference to the Golden Panthers, a team that’s 17th in the nation in rebounding margin and features former Alabama forward Michael Kessens, who hauled in 23 boards the other night. Martin’s familiar with FIU, being close with coach Anthony Evans and earning his degree from there in 1993. He was also concerned with his team’s latest performance.
The Gamecocks won, but it was only after they floored the gas after a halftime sermon. Martin was mad, and to the team’s credit, it didn’t want to make him madder. So it tightened its game in the second half and put Vermont to sleep.
USC’s newer players were feeling great after Michigan and Syracuse. The veterans were as well, but they nothing has yet been won.
It’s a long season, and it comes in segments. USC began the season with four games in eight days, beat the two biggest names on its early schedule and then took care of Vermont. After FIU represents the first extended downtime of the year, something USC has earned.
And one it wants to enjoy before returning. Only one way to do that.
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Who: Florida International (3-5) at No. 20 South Carolina (7-0)
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia
TV: SEC Network Plus
Radio: 107.5 FM
Florida International’s probable starters: G Kimar Williams 6-1 So. (5.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg); G Donte McGill 6-3 Sr. (19.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg); G Anthony Boswell 6-6 Sr. (2.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg); F Richard Bivens 6-9 Jr. (4.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg); F Michael Kessens 6-9 Sr. (14.9 ppg, 12.1 rpg)
South Carolina’s probable starters: G P.J. Dozier 6-6 So. (11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg); G Sindarius Thornwell 6-5 Sr. (18.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg); G Duane Notice 6-2 Sr. (9.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg); F Maik Kotsar 6-10 Fr. (9.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg); F Chris Silva 6-9 So. (9.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
Next game: South Carolina plays Seton Hall at 9 p.m. on Dec. 12 in New York.