Shaw, Johnson lead Gamecocks to victory
South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin has the philosophy of if you do what you’re supposed to do in practice, then you will get a chance to do what you’re supposed to do in game action.
Freshman guard Jaylen Shaw became the latest beneficiary of Martin’s philosophy in Sunday’s 84-72 victory against Florida International.
Shaw played 26 minutes and made the most of them, scoring 16 points and dishing out five assists.
The Hartsville native provided a spark early, nailing the first of his four three pointers with a little more than six minutes gone in the first half that gave the Gamecocks a 12-11 lead. Shaw sank another three less than a minute later to give his team a four point lead.
“This week, Jaylen has had one of his best practices since he’s been here,” senior guard Brenton Williams said. “He’s worked real hard this week and especially the last two days before (Sunday’s) game. He had the mindset that he was going to be aggressive.”
The Gamecocks needed Shaw’s aggressiveness in the first half as South Carolina was struggling in its man-to-man defense. FIU repeatedly drove into the lane and got layups and hit its open three-pointers when it got the opportunity.
The Panthers led 42-39 at halftime thanks to a 56 percent field goal percentage and three three’s in five tries.
A testament to the lack of defense came at the end of the first half when FIU’s Tymell Murphy, who finished with a game-high 22 points, drove the length of the court in the final four seconds and hit a layup at the buzzer, topping off a 7-0 Panther run to end the period.
Despite the struggles, Martin did little to reverse the Gamecocks’ fortune, but instead waited it out and let his team learn on the run.
“We had to learn a lesson, so I left us out there to make sure we get enough minutes on film so I can show these guys,” Martin said. “Then they have to make the decision on whether or not they want to grow as individuals so our team can grow because of their collective efforts.”
Another guard in Tyrone Johnson had a good game for the Gamecocks, scoring a team-high 18 points and recording a game-high seven assists.
The performance came after a two-game road trip that saw Johnson struggle to hit layups. However, a smaller FIU lineup helped Johnson get back in his groove.
“He didn’t have 6-10 guys at his back trying to block (his shot),” Martin said. “Ty’s played well on offense for us; he’s just missed some shots. Ty has given us a chance to play some good offense. There’s a reason we shot 50 percent from the field. He keeps us where we need to be.”
However, the defense continues to be a struggle for Martin, who was again unhappy with the perimeter defense of his team. The Panthers made six of 16 three-point attempts, but just two of 11 in the second half.
“Our perimeter defense is not any good,” Martin said. “We don’t put up any fight in our man-to-man.”
Despite the defensive woes, South Carolina was able to regroup at halftime and put away the game in the latter stages of the game, thanks to solid free throw shooting by Johnson and Williams.
Those two scored 11 straight points to help the Gamecocks to an 80-70 lead with 41 seconds left in the game.
“Happy with how we protected out home court in the second half,” Martin said.