Lawson, Silva lead Gamecocks to blowout win
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS BASKETBALL
After four straight losses, two major injuries and a nine-day layoff, the Gamecocks were looking for any sort of positive momentum with conference play looming.
They got it, boat-racing D-II North Greenville 97-46 Monday afternoon thanks to the help of a few newcomers, primarily AJ Lawson. It's the Gamecocks' first win this month.
"We practiced real well the last three days and we're learning how to practice. I like how we started the game," Frank Martin said. "I didn't like how we played once the score changed. We got back to playing the opponent and not playing the game."
The freshman do-it-all for the Gamecocks, Lawson led the team with 22 points and shot 61.5 percent from the field with fellow freshman Keyshawn Bryant adding 19 more.
For Bryant, it was the second-straight game he's posted in double figures and just the fourth time he's done it all season. This was Lawson's first double-digit scoring game since the team played at Michigan. Before that he scored at least 10 points in seven of his last eight games.
He finished three points shy of tying his career high.
Bryant also had three dunks, one coming off an alley-oop pass from Lawson in transition, to push his season total to a team-best 12.
“They really made me think about PJ and I when we first got here; just that type of connection," Chris Silva said of the two freshmen. "They get in the game and just enjoy the game and throwing alley-ops. They’re going to be really good. They’re learning real fast. They just have to stick to the coaching.”
Tre Campbell, starting in place of the injured TJ Moss, added 11 points, the most he's scored six games.
“His confidence is growing. He hit some trey-balls today," Lawson said. "I was just talking to him and he felt confident in his shot. I was encouraging him to do more because he can do more.”
The Gamecocks (5-7) started early, racing off to a quick 13-2 lead over the first four minutes of the game and built that into a 23-point halftime lead. They shot almost 42 percent from the field.
“We were active defensively today. I thought we protected the rim a little better a little better than we have in the past.”
In the second half, things didn't slow down as the Gamecocks went on separate runs of 16-2 and then another 16-0 run as they stifled the Crusader offense, pushing their lead to over 50 points with 3:22 left in the game and cruised to a win with every available player logging minutes.
They forced 26 turnovers Monday while ending the game shooting 49.2 percent, 37.5 from three.
Chris Silva finished one rebound shy of a double-double, which would have been the fourth of his season. Silva left the game with a little over seven minutes left after injuring his knee. He walked off the court under his own power but did not check back in.
He had 21 points.
“I tried to take a charge and he came at me pretty hard," Silva said. "He hit me in the knee and the elbow hit me in the throat. I had problems breathing. My knee’s fine; it’s a little bit sore. I’m good.”
Player of the game: Tre Campbell, who hasn't had the impact he wanted to this season, contributed his second double-figure performance of the year with 11 and two rebounds.
Statistical leaders: Points: Lawson, 22; Rebounds: Silva, 9; Assists: Gravett, nine
Up next: South Carolina is finished with non-conference play and starts SEC play on the road at Florida Saturday. Tip off is at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.