Frank Martin following Stony Brook loss: ‘They physically beat us.’
Who: Norfolk State (2-1) at South Carolina (1-1)
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
KenPom prediction: South Carolina 81, Norfolk State 62
Radio: 107.5 The Game in Columbia area
Series: South Carolina leads, 1-0.
Last meeting: Nov. 14, 2015 – South Carolina won 84-69 in Columbia
Coach: Robert Jones (89-83 in six seasons at Norfolk State)
Projected starters: G Mastadi Pitt (6.7 points per game), G Nic Thomas (13.7), G Derrick Jamerson (7.3), F Alex Long (6.3), F Jordan Butler (7.7)
Last game: Beat Clarion 74-46 on Nov. 10 in Norfolk, Va.
Notes: The Spartans have wins over a Division II opponent (Clarion) and Division III opponent (Mid-Atlantic Christian University). Their loss was to No. 19 Michigan. ... NSU’s lone NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2012 when, playing as a No. 15 seed, upset No. 2 Missouri. ... Norfolk State was picked third in the preseason MEAC poll. ... Butler (173) and Long (107) rank second and fifth among NSU’s career blocks leaders.
Coach: Frank Martin (231-145 in 12 seasons overall; seventh season at USC — 114-91).
Projected starters: G Tre Campbell (9.0), G A.J. Lawson (16.0), G/F Justin Minaya (370), F Chris Silva (10.0), F Maik Kotsar (6.5)
Last game: Fell to Stony Brook 83-81 on Nov. 9 at home
Notes: The Stony Brook result snapped USC’s 28-game home winning streak against non-Power 5 conference opponents. ... Through a week of action, the Gamecocks are last in the SEC in field goal percentage (39.7) and next-to-last in 3-point field goal percentage (22.0). ... Kotsar didn’t record a rebound against Stony Brook. That was a first in the junior’s career. ... Lawson’s 23 points against the Seawolves were the most by a USC freshman since Sindarius Thornwell dropped 25 at Georgia on Jan. 22, 2014.
1. Needed bounce-back
South Carolina could not only use a win, but a comfortable win where there’s little doubt about the best team on the floor. Through three opportunities this season (exhibition loss to Augusta included), the Gamecocks have hardly looked mighty despite on-paper inferior competition.
Frank Martin said after the Stony Brook loss that he’s still excited about his team. A convincing victory can help the fan base feel that way, too.
2. Spotlight on Silva, Kotsar
USC lost to Stony Brook and Chris Silva couldn’t do anything about it. Carolina’s All-SEC forward sat the final 10:18 with four fouls. Martin said he didn’t even consider bringing the senior back because his ball-screen defense was so porous.
Maik Kotsar was involved in Friday’s stretch run, but the junior’s goose-egg in the rebound column didn’t sit well with Martin.
Two years after starting on a Final Four team, Silva and Kotsar are showing signs of regression. There’s still plenty of season left, but Martin’s been cleared about the pressure he’s putting on his most veteran players.
3. A look-ahead?
Norfolk State and South Carolina share Michigan as a common opponent. The Wolverines are scheduled to face the Gamecocks on Dec. 8 — and could match up with them this weekend in Connecticut as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
Here’s what the Wolverines did to the Spartans on Nov. 6: Held them to 13 first half points, three 3-pointers (on 12 attempts) and forced 13 turnovers. Michigan won, 63-44.
Can USC compete with the Wolverines? Perhaps Tuesday’s game can provide a few clues.