The South Carolina men's basketball team held off a late game comeback to pick up a big 66-63 victory over UAB on Thursday night, moving to 3-1 on the season.
A lot of the early success came from 3-point shooting, something that has plagued the Gamecocks until this game. Senior guard Erik Stevenson finished the first half with a 3-3 mark from behind the arc, scoring 11 first-half points.
“Seeing those first two go in felt good,” Stevenson said in a postgame press conference. “Having the team and having the staff — the whole program — back me when it comes to shooting struggles, telling me to keep shooting, that’s what gives you the confidence to keep shooting.”
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin echoed Stevenson’s 3-point confidence in a postgame press conference.
“I don't worry about people that work at something that they're good at," Martin said. "He's a good shooter, and he works at it."
UAB, on the other hand, struggled with shooting in the first half, especially from behind the arc and from the charity stripe. The team shot 3-14 from the 3-point range, and 2-8 from the free-throw line.
This resulted in the largest halftime lead for the Gamecocks yet this season, at 35-25. South Carolina led by as much as 13 in the first half.
“I’m really disappointed with the way we played early," UAB head coach Andy Kennedy said postgame. "Wow, we were bad."
The second half started off all Gamecocks. It took a lead of as much as 16, but some Gamecocks got into foul trouble.
Stevenson picked up his fourth foul with 10 minutes remaining, keeping the 15-point scorer out for the majority of the final 10 minutes. Graduate student guard James Reese was also in foul trouble for a lot of the second half, as he was the No. 2 scorer at 14 points.
From there, South Carolina struggled from the field. It did not hit a field goal for 7:15, allowing a 16-3 run, diminishing the lead, and cutting it down to two.
“You can’t never take your foot off the gas,” Reese said in a postgame press conference.
The true freshman guard Devin Carter made four huge free throws in the final minute to secure the victory for the Gamecocks and its first win streak of the season.
“I had all the confidence in the world he was going to make his free throws,” Martin said.
South Carolina finished the second half with an 11-15 mark from the free-throw line, capping a strong 70% tilt on Thursday night.
This was a confidence-building victory for the Gamecocks over one of the top mid-majors in the country, UAB. Now, South Carolina will look to build from it, as it hosts another good mid-major against Wofford on Tuesday at 7 p.m.