Gamecocks riding two-game home win streak
With less than five minutes to play and the game tied at 55, the Gamecocks watched Michael Qualls grab the last points of his 20-point effort — a three that gave Arkansas the lead for good.
South Carolina faced an 11-point deficit headed into halftime but managed to outscore the Razorbacks in the second half to force a competitive match.
However, Brenton Williams’ three-game double-digit point streak has head coach Frank Martin doling out praise for the senior guard. Williams registered a team-high 29 points Wednesday against the Razorbacks, shooting six of 13 from beyond the arc.
“He’s come around,” Martin said. “Brent’s grown tremendously as a kid and as a player.”
Like Williams, Martin has said that the team has also grown over the course of the season.
“We’re just better. You know, our team is better,” Martin said. “I told you this a week ago before we won two games last week. Our team’s better. Our team has grown, we’ve accepted challenges (and) we haven’t run away from them.”
Now, with Georgia coming to town Saturday, Martin and his squad will see just how much they have grown since a 97-76 throttling in Athens.
The Gamecocks allowed five players to reach double digits in the loss to the Bulldogs on Jan. 22, including 22 points to Nemanja Djurisic alone.
Georgia also features a pair of sophomore guards who are proven scorers. Charles Mann is averaging 13.5 points per game and Kenny Gaines is averaging 12.1. The duo combined for 24 of Georgia’s 97 points the last time the teams met up.
Although the team received significant contributions from the duo, the Bulldogs also displayed their depth, scoring 39 points off the bench to South Carolina’s 17.
This time, South Carolina will take on its conference foes on its own court, where the team has won its past two games. The Gamecocks will have the benefit of having the crowd on its side this time around. The athletics department is holding a whiteout event, where each fan is encouraged to come decked out in white.
The department also added that it has set a goal of having 2,000 students in the stands for the Georgia game.
“It motivates us,” freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell said. “You know, we get a big play, we get the crowd going and the crowd gets us going. So, it motivates us. It gets us playing harder. It brings energy; that’s what we play off of.”
A key component facing the Gamecocks this weekend is keeping Djurisic inside and not allowing him to take open shots from three-point range. The junior led the team with three three-pointers last time.
In the long term, however, Martin said he thinks that the team is building a foundation for the future.
“I worry about recruiting. I worry about the kids who believe in us. I worry about doing everything I have to do to get our administration, our fans, our players, our community, our student body excited about what we’re trying to build.” he said. “If any of those people are not included in the process, you can’t build it. There’s no way you can sustain long-term success unless everyone I mentioned is on board.”