Gamecocks Roll Past FIU

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USC Athletics

MIAMI (AP) Chris Silva scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead South Carolina to a 78-61 win over FIU on Monday night.

Maik Kotsar scored 16 points, Justin Minaya added 13, and Frank Booker chipped in 12 for South Carolina (5-1) as head coach Frank Martin faced his alma mater for the first time on the road as a head coach. Martin is 3-0 against FIU.

FIU (2-4) was led by Eric Lockett’s 21 points.

After hitting a 3 to give the Gamecocks a 38-36 lead going into the break after a wild first half, Booker picked up where he left off, hitting three 3s in the opening minutes of the second half to give South Carolina a 57-38 lead.

Booker’s 3 were part of a pivotal 15-0 run that helped lift the Gamecocks to the win.

FIU cut the deficit to 10 points at 68-58 with six minutes left in the game, but were unable to get within single digits.

Both teams played an entertaining first half with each taking a turn at a big run.

South Carolina opened with a 9-0 run capped by an emphatic breakaway dunk by Silva. The Gamecocks’ fast start continued, making 9 of their first 11 shots to build a 20-4 lead.

Then, the Golden Panthers went on its run erasing the 16-point deficit with a 27-3 run over the next 8:41.

Trejon Jacob sparked FIU by scoring seven straight points with a layup, a long 3, and a two-handed dunk to cut the deficit to 20-11.

FIU continued its surge and took a 23-22 lead following a 4-point play by Brian Beard Jr. with 8:04 left in the first half. Moments later, Beard Jr. drilled another 3 for a 29-23 advantage.

South Carolina trailed 31-23 before Silva ended the run with a basket.

The Gamecocks committed 12 turnovers and made 1 of 9 shots from the field during the run.

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: Booker is proving to be a solid addition to the team after averaging 5.7 points a game at FAU last season. The 6-foot-3 senior has made a team-high 17 3-pointers through six games and is shooting 40.5 percent from behind the arc.

FIU: The Golden Panthers will look to build on their impressive 27-3 run in the first half behind their trio of guards as they will be looking for their first win over a Division I school.

KEY STAT

After turning it over 14 times in the first half, Carolina had just five turnovers in the second half. The Gamecocks were plus-15 in the rebound column (40-25) and tallied a season-high 22 assists on the team’s 32 made field goals.

NOTABLE

  • Head coach Frank Martinmoves to 3-0 all-time versus his alma mater, picking up his first road win against FIU Monday night.
  • Four different players have scored in double figures in each of the team’s five wins during the 2017-18 season.
  • The Gamecocks made a season-high 32 field goals, assisting on 22 of the made baskets. Carolina shot 52.5 percent from the floor, marking the first time to shoot 50 percent or better in a game since the team’s opening round NCAA Tournament win versus Marquette on March 17, 2017, in Greenville, S.C.
  • The team’s 22 assists mark the most since dishing out 23 versus Auburn in a blowout win on Jan. 24, 2017 at Colonial Life Arena.
  • Junior Chris Silva, a Preseason Second Team All-SEC selection by the league’s head coaches, tallied a career-high 26 points. He went 10-of-13 from the field, career-highs in both makes and attempts. Silva’s previous career high came when he scored 17 against second-seeded Duke in the NCAA Tournament in March.
  • Silva also had 10 rebounds for his seventh career double-double and his second this season.
  • Sophomore Maik Kotsarmatched his career-high with 16 points. He scored 16 in the team’s win over Syracuse on Nov. 26, 2016 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last season.
  • Kotsar had a great all-around game, recording six rebounds, a career-high six assists and three steals. He’s had at least two steals in five-straight games this year and leads the team with 12.
  • Sophomore Hassani Gravettcontinued to effectively distribute the basketball, notching seven assists to go alongside just one turnover. He’s had 27 assists in the team’s last four games.

UP NEXT

South Carolina travels to New York City on Nov. 30 for the Second Annual Under Armour Reunion at Madison Square Garden. The Gamecocks will face Temple, which just captured the Charleston Classic title with wins over Old Dominion, Auburn and Clemson.