South Carolina pulled away late on Tuesday evening to beat USC Upstate 78-60. The Gamecocks battled throughout, using a strong defensive showing to pick up its first season-opening victory since 2019-20.
“Not bad,” head coach Frank Martin simply stated postgame.
It was a close battle in the season opener for South Carolina, but a win is a win.
South Carolina never led by more than 18 points, and USC Upstate began the game with the momentum and a 17-8 lead. After that, South Carolina lead for the final 28:47, clamping down on defense.
That defensive domination was in large part due to South Carolina's play near the basket. USC Upstate was held to only 40% shooting on the evening. The defensive domination was complemented by the rebounding advantage of 54-32 and a defensive rebounding advantage of 35-31.
“They know how to bread the butter and threw the ball inside against us, and we didn't have any answers for it,” USC Upstate head coach Dave Dickerson said postgame.
The defense went both ways, as the Gamecocks didn’t shoot all that well on the evening. They finished at 39% from the field, going 4-19 from three. South Carolina only made one three-pointer in the second half.
“I’ve been begging guys to drive the ball for the last three years,” Martin said. “If we were talking about Wildens Leveque and Josh Gray shooting the threes today, they should send me to detention tomorrow morning.”
Luckily for the Gamecocks, they made up for it on the offensive boards. South Carolina outrebounded the Spartans 17-2. As a result of that, they led second-chance points by 15-6.
Freshman forward Ta’Quan Woodley was a key piece down low for the Gamecocks. He scored eight points and picked up five rebounds. Three of those rebounds were on the offensive side.
“TQ, that boy, he’s strong. He’s kind of got a dog mindset, he's just really excited to play,” Leveque said postgame.
Leveque also had a strong game. He and redshirt junior point guard Jermaine Couisnard led the Gamecocks with 14 points.
Graduate forward AJ Wilson sat the game out due to a back muscle strain.
South Carolina will look to move to 2-0 as it faces Princeton in Asheville on Friday night. Tip-off is slated for 9:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPNEWS.