The ongoing education of Frank Martin’s basketball team continues tonight in a return trip of sorts to the Big Apple.
USC (7-3) will take on Manhattan (3-6) at the new Barclays Center as a part of the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational. It is the Gamecocks’ second game in New York in less than a month and a chance to revisit the Jaspers, whose baseball team was the darling of the USC baseball regional this past spring.
The Gamecocks are coming off a hardscrabble 74-69 victory against Appalachian State. While the five-point win did not look impressive on paper, it was a clutch stretch late in the second half that showed some team growth.
USC snapped a 58-58 tie with a 9-0 run to take control of the game. It was the kind of situation the Gamecocks had not performed well in during recent games, and Martin was pleased to see the progress.
To take it a step further, Martin spoke of how that moment is something that should prepare the Gamecocks for the tough battles looming in SEC play.
“What are we going to do when we’re playing at Kentucky, and I’ve got one timeout left with 12 minutes to go?” he asked. “What are we going to do? Are they going to figure it out and understand how important it is they handle that moment?
“I only get so many timeouts, and there’s only so much control that us coaches have once the game starts.”
Manhattan most recently lost 75-48 at LIU-Brooklyn on Sunday. The Jaspers have been playing without senior guard George Beamon, a two-time All-MAAC selection who averaged 19.0 points last season. His status for tonight’s game is uncertain, but he has missed the past five games.
Following the game, USC will be off for a week before playing host to Presbyterian at 1 p.m. on Dec. 29.
WHO: South Carolina (7-3) vs. Manhattan (3-6)
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
RADIO: WNKT 107.5 FM
SERIES: USC leads 5-2
COACHES: Frank Martin (7-3 in first season at USC, 124-57 in sixth season); Steve Masiello (24-19 in second season at Manhattan)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: This game technically is a neutral court contest, despite the close proximity to the Manhattan campus. USC is 2-0 in neutral court games but 0-1 in New York City this season following their loss at St. John’s last month. The Jaspers’ top defensive player from a season ago has become one of their top offensive threats. Rhamel Brown is the MAAC’s reigning defensive player of the year, but he leads the conference with 58.5 percent field goal shooting. He also is seventh in the league in rebounding, averaging six per game.