South Carolina fans knew they were in for a rough season following the loss to Augusta University in their exhibition game, and things didn’t get better after a loss at home to Stony Brook. The Gamecocks didn’t look to have a pulse until they destroyed George Washington 90-55 in November.
South Carolina couldn’t catch a break because they had to play the last two undefeated teams in a row, Michigan and Virginia. They lost both games, but they at least played with some life. Fans lost patience with Frank Martin after a loss to Clemson at home. Martin knew he had to do something to put some fight in his team, especially Maik Kotsar and Chris Silva, who are the veterans of the team. Kotsar wasn’t playing as well as he could and Silva was committing too many unnecessary fouls.
The Gamecocks went into Christmas break with a 5-7 record and were the only winless team in the SEC. Their first conference game was a road game against Florida, who South Carolina beat in the Elite Eight in 2016. This game came down to a last second shot when Felipe Haase threw a hail mary to Silva over three defenders, and Silva put it in to win the game. Hassani Gravett played his best game of the season with 22 points. Fans started to notice a shift in momentum after the win, but they didn’t fully show up for the next game against a ranked Mississippi State.
South Carolina came to play against the Bulldogs and even had a four point lead at halftime. Kotsar played arguably his best game of his career and put up a career high 25 points. The game went into overtime, but the Gamecocks fought back to win. Both the freshmen and the veterans showed some fight and got the fans back into the program.
South Carolina faced Missouri yesterday in a game that was delayed from Saturday due to travel issues. The fans really showed up for this game and gave the Tigers a hard time. The team looked more complete than ever, and freshman Keyshawn Bryant had his best game of his career with a couple big slams. Silva played smart, and the defense committed to the zone that made them so good in 2016.
The Gamecocks now have their first four game win streak since the miracle run in the tournament. They are also 3-0 in the SEC and tied for first in a conference that is expected to send seven teams to the big dance.
They will face Vanderbilt, who is 0-3 in conference play on Wednesday.