The Daily Gamecock

Gamecock men's basketball steps up defensively in 90-63 win over Cleveland State

The South Carolina men’s basketball team continued its seven-game homestand with a matchup against Cleveland State at Colonial Life Arena. With a win, the team remains undefeated this season. 

"We have not been a very good offensive rebounding team, minus Chris Silva the last two years. We’ve got more guys that do that for us now,” South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said when asked about how crucial offensive rebounds were in tonight’s win. “That can be a staple of this team."

First half

From the start of play, the Gamecocks collected a surplus of offensive rebounds, which led to extra scoring opportunities. In spite of that, they did not cash in when they started off the game, shooting 1-10. Eventually, the Gamecocks picked it up offensively to lead by double digits. 

After falling behind by double digits, Cleveland State (1-3) cut the Gamecock lead to five at the end of the first half. 

South Carolina sophomore guard AJ Lawson went perfect from the free throw line, and he led the team in points. 

At the end of 20 minutes of play, South Carolina led 45-40 against the Vikings. 

Second half

The Gamecocks opened the second half with a 20-4 run to lead by double digits. 

Midway through the second half, the Vikings had an opportunity to put some points on the score board, but back-to-back blocks by Trae Hannibal and Wildens LeVeque prevented this. As a result, Hannibal obtained the basketball and drove for a layup, putting his team ahead by 23 points. 

The defense for the Gamecocks stepped up in the second half. They held their opponent to 23 points with a 23.1% shooting percentage.

“We were better," Martin said. "I thought our attention to detail was better in the second half defensively. Once we popped the game open, then we kind of got lazy, and that’s unfortunate because we actually had two real good practices heading into the game today."

South Carolina was successful both offensively and defensively in this game, which led to a 27-point victory over Cleveland State, 90-63.

Key performances

Lawson had another great game, as he scored a career-high 28 points. He went 11-12 on free throw attempts and had four assists, three rebounds and one steal. 

“I feel like I was being very aggressive with the ball, attacking, trying to get to the free throw line, trying to get layups, trying to shoot the ball and scoring a career high tonight,” Lawson said. 

Maik Kotsar and Alanzo Frink combined for 22 of the Gamecocks' 47 total rebounds.

Frink posted his first career double-double. He shot 50% from the field tonight, scoring 11 points. 

Though Jalyn McCreary did not score at all in this game (0-4 shooting), he made up for it with a big night on the defensive side of the basketball, blocking three Cleveland State shots. 

Up next

The Gamecocks continue their homestand Nov. 19, where they take on Boston University (1-2). Next Tuesday’s game begins at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.