South Carolina bounced back in a big way Sunday.
The Gamecocks, shaking off Saturday’s loss to Providence, crushed George Washington, 90-55, to claim third place in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
USC (3-2) not only didn’t trail, it led 18-0 less than five minutes into the first half and never looked back. Chris Silva, who struggled mightily a day earlier, looked more like his All-SEC self with 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. The senior forward also took three charges.
“Chris Silva getting off to a good start was a real positive thing,” USC assistant coach Perry Clark said in a radio interview with the Gamecock Sports Network. “Chris is such an integral part of what we do. He’s such a great person. When he got going and started knocking down some shots, I think it kind of lifted everybody’s spirits.”
Carolina led 56-18 at halftime. It marked the first time the Gamecocks reached at least 50 points in a half since last November against UTEP in Conway. USC made its first seven 3-pointers and went 13 of 25 from deep for the game.
The Gamecocks shot 64.5 percent in the first half and 49.3 for the game.
Freshman A.J. Lawson had 19 points with nine rebounds and five assists. His classmate T.J. Moss had 11 points. Maik Kotsar added 12 points.
The opening 20 minutes marked the second time in two games the Gamecocks had an early double-digit advantage. USC was up 11 on Providence deep into Saturday’s first half, but couldn’t equal that performance down the stretch. It lost by nine to a Friars team coming off five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
GW is 0-5 and likely isn’t headed to any form of the postseason in 2018-19. The Colonials, picked to finish 13th in the Atlantic 10’s preseason poll, entered Sunday with an average margin defeat of 10.8. After USC’s hot start, GW never got within single digits.
“I think it started with after the game (Saturday),” Clark said. “One of the things that Coach (Frank Martin) really emphasized was it being a long season. You can lose a game, but as long as you just lose a game, don’t lose your confidence, don’t lose your belief in what you’re doing and how you’re doing stuff, it makes it much easier to come back.
“And that’s what we talked about. Just isolating (Saturday) and cleaning up the mistakes and coming back and continuing to get better.”
The Gamecocks are off for Thanksgiving week and return to action Nov. 26 against Wofford at Colonial Life Arena.
Who: Wofford at South Carolina
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 26
Where: Colonial Life Arena
TV: SEC Network-Plus (accessed via ESPN3.com/WatchESPN app)