COLUMBIA, S.C. - (Univ. of SC Media) The South Carolina men's basketball team (1-0) opened the 2014-15 season Friday night with a matchup with the North Florida Ospreys (0-1). Of the 11 players who saw time in the game, six would score eight points or more to spark an 81-56 win. Demetrius Henry and Tyrone Johnson led the team with 12 points apiece and Mindaugas Kacinas went for nine points and 11 rebounds.
Henry's second dunk in the opening two minutes of the contest gave the Gamecocks an early 8-6 lead over the Ospreys. That dunk would spark a run that would give the team a lead for good, as the score would balloon to 22-8 over the next six minutes. The team would not trail in the game. Henry scored six of Carolina's first 14 points with his third dunk of the half at the 15-minute mark and the Gamecocks extended their lead to 12 points at the under-12 minute media timeout at 25-13.
The Gamecocks pushed their lead to twenty at 36-16 with just over five minutes remaining in the opening half on a dunk from junior forward Laimonas Chatkevicius. That would be the exclamation point on what would be a 13-0 run that spanned from 9:39 to 4:07 in the half.
Beau Beech would break the Osprey's scoreless stretch, but by then it would be too late. Carolina held a 48-27 upperhand at the half after hitting 53.1 percent (17-32) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. Balanced scoring in the first half propelled the Gamecocks, as six different Carolina players scored at least six points in the half, led by Henry's eight.
The play down low would be the difference in the first half, setting a tone that would prevail for the entire game. In the first 20 minutes the Gamecocks held a 26-10 advantage in points in the paint with a 21-11 rebounding margin.
Carolina continued its strong offensive performance early in the second half, as both Henry and Johnson reached double-figures before the first media timeout. Battling foul trouble, the Ospreys struggled offensively, hitting just three of their first nine shots of the second half, trailing the Gamecocks 57-34 at the 15-minute mark. The lead would grow as large as 29 points in the convincing win.
As a team, South Carolina made better than half of its shots (29-57) and won the battle of the boards 42-28 with ten offensive rebounds. The bench would be featured often in the game, with the six reserves pitching in a combined 35 points. In his first collegiate game, freshman guard Marcus Stroman played like a veteran with a line of six points, six assists, two steals and no turnovers. As a team, South Carolina committed just nine turnovers (two in the first half) while forcing its opponent into 15.
The Gamecocks cleaned up the glass all night long, allowing the Osprey's just two live-ball offensive rebounds in the game. The first would not come until the 6:37 mark in the second half, with South Carolina already leading by 27.
Colonial Life Arena