The South Carolina men’s basketball team defeated the Columbia International University Rams 87-50 to begin the 2019-20 season in an exhibition game Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena.
The first game of the year comes successes and miscues. Head coach Frank Martin said he believed there were many improvements that could be made in order to get the team ready for the regular season.
“We’ve got to get our big guys better in our, just, general defensive concepts,” Martin said. “I’m pretty happy with where we’re at with our firsts; like, people come at us the first wave, but if they get past that, we weren’t very good there, and I’ve got to do a better job there.”
In the first half, the Gamecocks brought their best offensively and defensively. On the offensive side of the ball, South Carolina had three leading scorers: A.J. Lawson, Jair Bolden and Jalyn McCreary.
Columbia International only scored 23 points against the opposing defense. One of the biggest plays was five minutes into the game, when Wildens Leveque swatted a Rams shot into the stands.
Though the Rams were down 23 going into the second half, they opened up the period with early 3-point shots to cut down the lead to 13 and stay in the game.
As for the Gamecocks, they began to play sluggishly, which led to four turnovers in the first few minutes. However, South Carolina eventually picked up the pace.
The Gamecocks had 17 second chance points, while CIU had three.
Sophomore guard Lawson scored 23 points and had seven assists and two steals. Last season, he was named an SEC all-freshman team honoree. He competed at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece in the summer with Team Canada, where he averaged 16.7 points.
“I just watch a lot of film, learn from my mistakes, and try to execute to make a play the best that I can, and do what I do well and just keep doing it,” Lawson said when asked about how he will be looking to improve. “You know, work on my weaknesses.”
Other key contributors in the victory included McCreary and Maik Kotsar. McCreary, a freshman from Marietta, Georgia, shot 70% from the field, which was good for 15 points. As for Kotsar, he accounted for 12 of South Carolina’s points in this game and compiled seven rebounds.
Up next for the Gamecocks will be their home opener against the North Alabama Lions Nov. 6 at Colonial Life Arena. Tipoff is 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on SEC Network+.