USC Men's Basketball

What we learned from South Carolina’s win over Arkansas

It’s the second week of February and South Carolina has already matched its SEC win total from all of last season.

The Gamecocks (7-3) remained in fourth place in the league with its 77-65 overwhelming of Arkansas on Saturday at Colonial Life Arena.

Here’s what we learned from USC’s fifth home victory in six tries:

Carolina is a good 3-point shooting team — every now and then

Through 23 games this season, the Gamecocks have had the worst 3-point shooting night of the Frank Martin era and two of the three best.

USC on Saturday made 66.7 percent of its attempts Saturday. Perhaps none were more important than A.J. Lawson’s back-to-back 3s that triggered a game-changing 22-4 second half run.

The 10-of-15 performance comes a week after the Gamecocks went 11-of-16 (68.8 percent) in a win at Georgia.

Yet USC is still 11th in the SEC in 3-point shooting. Why? Doesn’t help that USC started this season with a 0-of-18 dud against USC Upstate.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you there we’re world-beaters shooting 3s,” Martin said, “but we’re better than what the statistics tell you.”

The Lawson-Bryant duo reached a milestone

Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice make up the highest scoring freshman duo of the seven-year Martin era. The two combined for 733 points in 2013-14.

Keyshawn Bryant and A.J. Lawson are on pace to break that through one game of the SEC Tournament. Bryant had 17 on Saturday and Lawson had 24. This marks the seventh time the duo has scored in double figures in the same game. That already ties what Thornwell and Dozier did five years ago.

Related: USC is three wins shy of topping that 2013-14 team’s victory total.

Frank Martin likes to quote Dabo Swinney

Putting rivalry aside, Martin has referenced the Clemson football coach in each of the last two post-game news conferences.

He did at Kentucky when asked about South Carolina’s record to the halfway point of the SEC season. He did it Saturday when asked about USC’s rally from a 13-point second half deficit.

“I heard Dabo Swinney say this,” Martin said, “and I had never heard anyone say it ... ‘There’s nothing more irrelevant than the halftime score.’ And I thought that was a great line. There’s nothing more irrelevant than any point of the game except when the game’s over.

“You gotta keep playing. It’s a 40-minute game.”

Four of USC’s seven SEC wins have come after being down at halftime, Saturday included.

An area of struggle becomes a strength — for one afternoon, anyway

Martin, when speaking to media members Friday night at USC’s “Legends Event,” joked that he thought about throwing former Gamecock Gary Gregor into a late-week practice to help prove a point with his current team.

“Gregor had like 36 rebounds in a game,” Martin said. “I think he had more rebounds in one game than we’ve had in our last two weeks.”

USC, ironically, totaled 36 boards against Arkansas. That was seven more than the Razorbacks, meaning USC won the battle on the glass for the first time in three games. It was minus-27 at Kentucky.

Next up? A trip to No. 1 Tennessee and a Volunteers bunch that left CLA on Jan. 28 plus-eight in rebounding.

Next game

Who: South Carolina (12-11, 7-3 SEC) at No. 1 Tennessee (22-1, 10-0)

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Thompson-Boling Arena

TV: SEC Network

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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