South Carolina men's basketball has only started the SEC basketball season with a 3-0 record two previous times in program history. In 1997, the team started 11-0 in the SEC en route to a regular season SEC championship. In 2017, the Gamecocks started 5-0 on the way to the program’s first and only Final Four appearance.
On Sunday, the Gamecocks took one step closer to reaching those goals by defeating Missouri 85-75 at home to improve their overall record to 8-7.
“Good win for us ... hard, physical game,” head coach Frank Martin said after the game. “We didn’t rebound on the defensive end, but somehow, someway with the game in the balance, we came up with some hard defensive rebounds ... that allowed us to take a deep breath.”
South Carolina is 3-0 in the SEC for the second time in three years, but the team must go on the road for their next two games as they look to improve on their undefeated conference record. Martin is confident that the team's experience from the non-conference games will be beneficial.
“That’s why you schedule those (non-conference) games so when we went into Florida, we were prepared to not fall victim to the emotion of the crowd or the game,” Martin said. “Just play for 40 minutes and put yourself in a place where you got a chance to win at the end.”
This team has obviously looked much different during this four-game winning streak when compared to the beginning of the season when the Gamecocks started the season 5-7. However, senior forward Chris Silva doesn’t think anything about this team and their mindset has changed all year.
“It don't matter what situation we’re in, coach has always believed in us and told us to keep working and get better,” Silva said. “We come into practice ready to go and try to get better every day.”
Being 3-0 in the conference is exciting for Gamecock fans, but freshman forward Keyshawn Bryant know that it’s important to stay focused and the next game and to not get caught up in the rankings.
“It’s good to be 3-0, but after every win we look to our next game, try and get another win,” Bryant said.
The Gamecocks will look to improve on their hot start this week when they travel to Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. in Nashville, Tennessee, and can be viewed on SEC Network.