USC Men's Basketball

Gamecocks hang tough for a while, but fall at No. 5 Michigan

South Carolina forward Maik Kotsar (21) drives into Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis (13) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
South Carolina forward Maik Kotsar (21) drives into Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis (13) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) AP

Facing its toughest opponent of the season, South Carolina did a bunch of things right in its 89-78 loss to No. 5 Michigan on Saturday afternoon.

Chris Silva looked like his old self, Maik Kotsar was a productive sidekick and USC put together enough good stretches to make it seem like these Gamecocks (4-5) have brighter days ahead.

“We took a step forward as a team today,” Carolina coach Frank Martin said in a radio interview with the Gamecock Sports Network. “We didn’t just play to play.”

But playing in Ann Arbor against one of the nation’s best teams was never going to be easy. Carolina led by as many as three in the first half and hung around when the Wolverines (10-0) looked like they were going to win going away. The Gamecocks whittled a 14-point second half deficit down to single digits on a few occasions and kept the threat of an upset alive.

Michigan, as it was to the likes of Villanova, North Carolina and Purdue earlier this season, proved too much for Carolina. The Wolverines got 26 points from Jordan Poole and another 17 from Ignas Brazdeikis. They shot 51.9 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Gamecocks by 13.

“The difference in the game — and this where our team has to take ownership — was our inability to get defensive rebounds,” Martin said. “That’s a team thing, that’s an individual thing, that’s something we’re trying to fix and I know our players want to fix — but we’re not doing that well right now.”

USC got 18 points and 12 rebounds from Silva. Kotsar added 16 points. It was the veteran frontcourt’s best combined scoring effort of the season. Freshman Keyshawn Bryant scored all 13 of his points in the second half.

A Kotsar jump-hook put the Gamecocks ahead, 21-18, with 9:36 left in the first half. Michigan eventually turned that deficit into an 11-point advantage before USC closed strong to make it a 42-36 game at halftime.

The Wolverines led by as many as 16 in the second half. At the 7:50 mark of the period — when USC had attempted eight free throws to Michigan’s 26 — Martin received a technical foul.

Carolina was called for 21 fouls, compared to 14 for UM.

USC is the first team to crack 70 points against Michigan this season. The Gamecocks shot 51.6 percent from the field, their second-best performance of the year.

Box score

No. 5 MICHIGAN 89, SOUTH CAROLINA 78

SOUTH CAROLINA (4-5)

Silva 7-13 3-7 18, Bryant 6-13 1-1 13, Kotsar 7-10 2-2 16, Moss 1-1 0-0 2, Lawson 3-7 3-4 10, Haase 1-4 0-0 2, Frink 2-3 0-0 4, Hinson 1-4 0-0 2, Campbell 1-4 0-0 2, Gravett 3-3 0-0 9. Totals 32-62 9-14 78.

MICHIGAN (10-0)

Brazdeikis 3-10 11-12 17, Teske 6-9 3-5 15, Matthews 4-8 2-4 12, Poole 8-12 6-7 26, Simpson 3-7 1-2 7, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Livers 4-7 0-0 12, Brooks 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-54 23-30 89.

Halftime: Michigan 42-36. 3-Point Goals: South Carolina 5-11 (Gravett 3-3, Silva 1-1, Lawson 1-2, Frink 0-1, Hinson 0-2, Campbell 0-2), Michigan 10-24 (Poole 4-7, Livers 4-7, Matthews 2-4, Brooks 0-1, Simpson 0-1, Brazdeikis 0-4). Fouled Out: Silva. Rebounds_South Carolina 22 (Silva 12), Michigan 34 (Teske 9). Assists: South Carolina 14 (Lawson 5), Michigan 13 (Simpson 7). Total Fouls: South Carolina 22, Michigan 14. Technicals: South Carolina coach Frank Martin.

Next game

Who: South Carolina vs. No. 4 Virginia

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 19

Where: Colonial Life Arena

TV: SEC Network

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