Gamecocks search for first SEC win against Texas A&M on road
Freshman guard Duane Notice received some attention from college teams when he played high school basketball. He was given three stars by ESPN’s recruiting department. But South Carolina sticks out like a sore thumb on his list of potential schools.
Playing in Toronto, Canada, South Carolina was the only school south of Pennsylvania to make Notice’s final list of five universities.
With the freshman playing in every game so far this season, coach Frank Martin is feeling better and better about his discovery in Canada.
“I love the guys that work for me,” Martin said. “Our guys go out there and find guys. Duane probably wasn’t a guy that people jumped up and down and raved about as far as who they thought he could be, but our guys went out and found someone that fit who we are.”
The Canadian is a regular starter for Martin’s Gamecocks, earning the fourth most starts on the team thus far.
Notice is also averaging the fourth most points of any Gamecock, including several double-digit performances over winter break.
“Coach Martin has always challenged me every day,” Notice said. “The first day we got to Hawaii, and we had our practice, he challenged me in front of everybody and that kind of gave me a spark. And that enabled me to kind of get on this run that I’m going on.”
With his career still young, Notice turned in his career-high in the aforementioned tournament in Hawaii, putting up a team-high 15 points in a win over Akron.
With two losses to begin conference play, that last couple of games have been frustrating for Notice and the rest of the Gamecocks.
Wednesday will give South Carolina (7-8, 0-2 SEC) a chance to win its first SEC game of the year when it travels to Texas A&M, an achievement that Martin thinks could do wonders for his young team.
“Losing’s an epidemic,” Martin said. “Losing is negative. And you don’t want to compile losses because then it deflates your enthusiasm and your energy.”
A win in College Station, Tex., would be no small task for the Gamecocks. The Aggies are undefeated in the early-goings of conference play with a 2-0 record in the SEC to go with their 11-4 overall record.
Texas A&M is riding high heading into its matchup with South Carolina after grinding out a 57-56 win over Tennessee on Saturday.
Wednesday’s game will be relatively personal for Martin, as he maintains a close friendship with Aggie head coach Bill Kennedy.
Martin attributes much of Texas A&M’s surprising success this season to the team’s ability to emulate its coach’s grittiness.
“Billy Kennedy’s teams, if you followed his career … they don’t make mistakes,” Martin said. “Their ability to not make mistakes on offense then allows their defense to set. And then they scrap you, they fight you, they don’t give you anything easy.”
Kennedy has been able to overcome some monumental personal challenges in order to get his Texas A&M team to where it is. The coach was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease before his first season with the Aggies.
“BK is a friend and I know what he’s been battling here for two or three years with his health issues,”Martin said. “And to see a team that’s finally playing the kind of basketball that he preaches, as his friend and a person in the business, it’s fun to watch.”
Wednesday’s game will tip off at 8 p.m. in Texas A&M’s Reed Arena and will be available to watch online on ESPN3.
With one team looking for its first win in the conference and the other fighting to preserve an unbeaten record, Martin and the Gamecocks are raring to go.
“Exciting week for us,” Martin said. “Exciting week as we take on a Texas A&M team that’s playing with an unbelievable confidence right now.”