Gamecocks Roll Over UTEP

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USC Athletics


CONWAY, S.C. (AP)
 Chris Silva scored 15 points and South Carolina had a dominating first-half performance to beat UTEP 80-56 in Friday’s consolation bracket of the relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

The Gamecocks (3-1) struggled in Thursday’s loss to Illinois State, but they were much sharper against the Miners (1-2). They built a double-digit lead in the first 6 minutes and shot 55 percent in the first half, leading 50-24 by the break and by 32 after halftime.

Matt Willms scored 18 points for UTEP, which hit shots early but undercut any momentum with a constant stream of turnovers. UTEP committed 16 turnovers in the first half, leading to 21 points for the Gamecocks, and finished with 23.

The Miners lost leading scorer and rebounder Keith Frazier to a first-half injury. He appeared to land on a close-out defender on a 3-pointer and came up grabbing his right ankle with 2:25 left.

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: Coach Frank Martin was irked by his team’s execution against Illinois State’s zone defense Thursday. The Gamecocks responded with a fast start in an early game – it tipped off at 10:30 a.m. – and never trailed. At one point midway through the first half, they made more shots (11) than the Miners attempted (10). And they shared the basketball, finishing with 19 assists on 27 baskets.

UTEP: The Miners have had a rough first two days in Conway, which is hosting the Tip-Off due to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. First they blew a nine-point lead in the final 3:23 to lose on a final-seconds three-point play to Boise State on Thursday. Then they had no response at all for South Carolina’s edge and lost Frazier (17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) to the injury.

KEY STAT

The Gamecocks jumped out to a 26-point lead at halftime thanks to shooting 54.5 percent (17-for-31) from the field the first 20 minutes. Carolina assisted on 19 of its 27 made field goals, a season-high.

NOTABLE

  • Redshirt junior point guard Hassani Gravettnotched a career-high nine assists. He had six in the first half to go alongside zero turnovers.
  • Freshman Justin Minayapoured in a career-high 14 points in 28 minutes of action. The Harrington Park, N.J., native, was 4-for-7 from the field, knocking down a career-high three 3s.
  • Freshman Justin Minayapoured in a career-high 14 points in 28 minutes of action. The Harrington Park, N.J., native, was 4-for-7 from the field, knocking down a career-high three 3s.
  • Chris Silva(15), Maik Kotsar (14) and Kory Holden (11) joined Minaya in double figures. Holden went 4-for-5 from the field en route to his first career double-figure game in Garnet and Black.
  • The win marks Carolina’s first on a neutral floor this season. Head coach Frank Martinnow has 99 career victories in his six seasons in Columbia.
  • The Gamecocks were sizzling from the field in the first 20 minutes, starting the game 11-of-15 (73 percent) from the field. Carolina led by double-digits for the final 33:06 of the game.
  • Carolina scored 50 points in the first half, marking the first time to hit the half-century mark in a half since scoring 65 in the second of half of the team’s win over second-seeded Duke in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

UP NEXT

South Carolina faces the winner of Appalachian State and Western Michigan in the fifth-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. ET. The Mountaineers and Broncos play this evening at 5 p.m. at the HTC Center. The game will be televised on ESPNU.