South Carolina continues to count on a bunch of players to pull through early season games.
Without a dominant player like former three-time All-SEC guard Devan Downey, coach Darrin Horn has said the star of his team his season will be “the team.”
In a 74-61 victory against Delaware State at Colonial Life Arena on Wednesday night, 10 Gamecocks scored with four reaching double figures. Forwards Lakeem Jackson and Malik Cooke and guard Brian Richardson each scored a team-high 12 points.
“A guy like Johndre Jefferson is the standout guy tonight and may not do that the next night but it could be somebody else,” Horn said of the reserve forward who added 11 points.
Jackson led USC (5-1) with eight boards. The Gamecocks kept their fifth opponent in six games to shooting 40 percent or less from the field.
But the Gamecocks trailed 37-35 at halftime to the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference team after USC sprinted to a nine-point lead within the first five minutes.
Delaware State (2-3) was leading, in part, because it made all but one of its 12 free-throws in the first half. Horn said his team’s energy dropped after taking a large lead and the Gamecocks missed too many easy shots.
“We just challenged our guys at halftime, ‘Hey you know what? We’re just going to have come out and just guard, sit down in the half-court and defend,’” the coach said. “To our players’ credit, I think they have responded every time there has been a challenge like that.”
USC came out pressed the Hornets to start the second half and created more scoring chances. The Gamecocks shot nearly 67 percent in the second half — their best 20-minute shooting performance of the season.
Steals that led to breakaway baskets on back-to-back possessions midway through the second half broke open the game.
Guard Stephen Spinella followed his steal with a dunk, while Jackson finished his pick with a windmill lay-up that rolled around the rim before falling. That led to a 17-4 USC run over the next eight minutes.
The Gamecocks were helped when Delaware State forward Marques Oliver, who scored a game-high 21 points, fouled out with 8:43 remaining. The sophomore collected three fouls in the second half while being held to four points.
The Gamecocks’ non-conference schedule gets tougher from here, beginning with a home game against Clemson on Sunday. The Gamecocks have lost six in a row to the Tigers.
Lakeem Jackson, Brian Richardson
|DELAWARE ST.||Min||FG M-A||FT M-A||REB O-T||A||PF||PTS|
Percentages: FG .400, FT .929.
3-Point Goals: 4-19, .211 (Washington 2-9, Stowe 1-1, Welcher 1-3, Wilson 0-1, Baylor 0-1, Walker 0-2, Threatt 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Threatt 2).
Turnovers: 16 (Walker 5, M. Oliver 4, Stowe 3, Washington 2, Threatt, Marcellus).
Steals: 7 (Threatt 2, Washington 2, Stowe, Wilson, M. Oliver).
Technical Fouls: Oliver.
|SOUTH CAROLINA||Min||FG M-A||FT M-A||REB O-T||A||PF||PTS|
Percentages: FG .518, FT .600.
3-Point Goals: 4-12, .333 (Ellington 1-1, Galloway 1-2, Spinella 1-2, Richardson 1-4, Cooke 0-1, Muldrow 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 8 (Muldrow 3, Harris 3, Spinella, Jackson).
Turnovers: 15 (Cooke 4, Harris 2, Galloway 2, Smith, Ellington, Richardson, Jackson, Muldrow, Spinella).
Steals: 9 (Jackson 3, Spinella 2, Richardson, Ellington, Cooke, Jefferson).
Technical Fouls: None.