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South Carolina Defeats Syracuse At Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational

(Photo by John Jones - Double G Media)

(Photo by John Jones – Double G Media)

South Carolina beat the tough Syracuse zone defense and defeat the Orange 64-50 in front of a pro-Syracuse crowd in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational on Saturday afternoon from the Barclays Center.

The first half of play was one of the sloppiest halves of basketball you will see as both Syracuse and South Carolina combined for 18 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play. Throughout the first half, the Gamecocks broke the vaunted Syracuse zone by shooting 50 percent from the field and distributing the ball to the tune of eight assists and 14 points in the paint. South Carolina’s defense came to play as well as they accumulated eight steals on their way to a 37-26 halftime lead.

“I went back and studied the tape of the last game I coached at Kansas State where we played Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. I thought I made a grave error because I tried to play behind the zone,” said South Carolina coach Frank Martin. “They bait you to throw it in there (inside), they want you to play behind the zone because they are so big that you get swallowed up.”

As for Syracuse, it was a slow start for the Orange as they shot just 8-for-23 from the field in the first half. The 11-point Gamecock lead could have been much larger if not for Syracuse forcing seven turnovers of their own and hitting 4-of-8 shots from three-point land in the half. Sophomore Frank Howard (9 points, 3 rebounds a game) got into foul trouble as he picked up his third foul midway through the first half which forced him to sit during the latter stages of the half.

The second half saw a 12-2 Syracuse run in the first five minutes of the half to cut the Gamecock lead down to 42-38. The game then began to look like Orange-Gamecock non-conference football game midway through the half as the game took a physical turn and both teams ratcheted up the defense.

Once again though South Carolina started to shred through the Syracuse zone as they built their lead to 51-43 at the ten-minute mark of the second half.

A four-minute drought where neither team scored a point ended when Andrew White III hit a three for the Orange to cut the South Carolina lead down to five with five minutes to go. Syracuse would not get any closer as South Carolina went into closer mode and shut Syracuse down for the remainder of the game. The Gamecock lead grew to 16 points with 1:25 remaining when Syracuse fans began making their move to the exits of the Barclays Center.

“They were just really good defensively. They pressured when we got in the lanes, they’re just a really, really good defensive team,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.

“This was an offensive game. This isn’t about our defense., it’s about our offense. We lost a game it’s about our defense. It’s almost never about our offense. Our defense is fine, we had a problem on offense”

South Carolina (6-0) was led by Maik Kotsar and Sindarius Thornwell who both scored 16 points in the game. Thornwell was named Most Outstanding Player of the game. PJ Dozier finished with a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Gamecocks.

Tyler Lydon led Syracuse with 18 points and seven rebounds the Orange suffered their first loss of the year (4-1). The killer for Syracuse was their 31 percent shooting from the field and 17 turnovers they committed during the game.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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