The South Carolina basketball team overcame some cold shooting early on to route the Radford Highlanders, 85-56 Friday night at the Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks improved to 2-1 on the season, while the Highlanders fell to 2-1. Stephen Spinella led all scorers with a career-high 15 points, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc. Brian Richardson had 11 points, and Lakeem Jackson and Bruce Ellington had 10 apiece.
"I think he's playing with a lot of confidence," South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn said. "He's doing the things that we thought he could do when we recruited him. We knew he was a good scorer - he's athletic."
The Gamecocks connected on just one of their first seven three-point attempts and three of their first 17 field goal attempts as they struggled to a 10-6 lead eight minutes into the game.
"We wanted to come out from the start and really extend our pressure and get after them defensively
and try to get the game going at a fast pace," Horn said. "We had a hard time doing that early with a young team. They showed some different looks - 1-3-1, drop back to a 2-3 (zone) - that I thought we looked a little confused."
From there, the Gamecocks turned up the pressure defensively - forcing 16 turnovers and heated up
offensively in a hurry as they went on a 39-13 run thanks in large part to hitting 6-of-9 from behind the three-point line over the final 12 minutes of the half to build a commanding 49-19 halftime lead. Spinella and Brian Richardson each had two of the six three-pointers.
Spinella got the run going with a three-pointer from Ellington and after a Johnathan Edwards layup, Sam Muldrow drained a three-pointer to give the Gamecocks a 16-8 lead. Later, Richardson and Spinella hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Gamecocks a commanding 28-12 lead. Ellington and Richardson would hit the fifth and sixth three-pointer of the run to push the lead beyond 20 points at 37-16. From there the Gamecocks would hit 6-of-7 free throws to build the 49-19 lead.
"We settled down after the first media timeout and then started attacking," Horn said. "I think that really helped us.
"I think the pressure started to pay off and we got some easy ones (baskets) - knocked in a couple shots," Horn continued. "Making shots changes everything. We got out in transition and started making some easy ones."
The Gamecocks came out of the locker room sluggish in the second half. Back-to-back Radford
baskets forced Horn to call a timeout and sub out the entire group just over a minute into the half - something he did several times in the second half.
"As we moved forward through the game we had a bunch of mass substitutions because I wasn't pleased with what was going on," Horn said. "It's great to have a bench - I'm really enjoying that. It's saving my voice - I don't have to scream and yell as much (when) I can just take them out. For some reason the bench speaks much more loudly than the coach."
The Gamecocks settled in from there, building a lead as big as 38 points at 65-27 before cruising to the 85-56 final. All 11 eligible players scored at least four points in the victory.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a box score in any type of situation where every kid on the team had at least two buckets, which is great," Horn said. "Nobody played too many (minutes), but at the same time the guys that didn't play as much still had no less than 13 (minutes)."
The Gamecocks return to action on Tuesday, November 23rd when they host USC Upstate. Tip is
scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Spinella leads Gamecocks in 85-56 Win
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