South Carolina takes on strong-starting UAB

NCAA Men's Basketball

Looking to shake off a disappointing early season tournament in neighboring North Carolina, South Carolina returns home to face the UAB Blazers on Thursday night in Columbia, S.C.

The Gamecocks (2-1) split their two games in the Asheville Championship, losing Friday to Princeton 66-62 before claiming a 75-64 victory over Western Kentucky in Sunday’s match.

According to Martin, the power forward position has been a major liability … but it could be due for an upgrade soon.

Slated starter AJ Wilson, a graduate transfer from George Mason, has been bothered by a back injury and a recent death in the family.

“With not practicing and his mind being all over the place, it just wasn’t the right thing to throw him out there,” Martin said of Wilson. Moreover, Keyshawn Bryant is due to return from a five-game suspension by the end of the month.

“We battled against Princeton,” Martin said, “but our play at the four (position) was not what we needed it to be offensively or defensively. They attacked us through there, as (South Carolina) Upstate did.”

Against Western Kentucky, Martin turned to a small-but-active rotation, which included Devin Carter and Brandon Martin, who contributed in key moments of the victory.

Jermaine Couisnard paces the squad with 15.7 points per game, while Wildens Leveque (11.3) and Erik Stevenson (10.0) also score in double figures.

Meanwhile, UAB (3-0) has taken care of all of its business early, scoring 95 points per game and limiting the opposition to 69.7 in three impressive victories.

Four Blazers are scoring in double figures: Jordan Walker (21 per game), Quan Jackson (16), Michael Ertel (12.3) and Tavin Lovan (11.5).

The Conference USA school has nailed 26-of-73 (35.6 percent) from beyond the arc in handling UNC Asheville, Morehead State, and Rhodes.

Coach Andy Kennedy will lean on Walker, a first-year Blazer who played one season at Seton Hall and two at Tulane before moving to Birmingham.

“He’s a difference maker for us because of his ability to break down defenses,” Kennedy said after his team’s 102-77 win over UNC Asheville. “It’s hard to break a press, and that is what Asheville does.

“It didn’t seem very chaotic to us because of (Walker). They pressed us for 40 minutes, and we only turned it over six times. It’s really because of (his) ability to break down defenses and get the ball in the paint.”

–Field Level Media

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