Lawson’s 22 lift South Carolina to 97-46 win over Crusaders
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A.J. Lawson scored 22 points and Chris Silva had 21 as South Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak with a 97-46 rout of Division II North Greenville on Monday.
The Gamecocks (5-7) took control early and never let up against the overmatched Crusaders.
Things will pick up quickly. South Carolina, which opens Southeastern Conference play Saturday night. Still, it was the Gamecocks first win in five December contests and first since topping Coastal Carolina 85-79 on Nov. 30.
The game, which North Greenville (1-10) counted as an exhibition, quickly looked like one as the bigger, stronger Gamecocks came out fast. Tre Campbell and A.J. Lawson had 3-pointers in the first four minutes as South Carolina opened up a 13-2 lead that North Greenville had little hope of cutting into.
There were the predictable, on court moments where South Carolina’s SEC pedigree was obvious. North Greenville sophomore guard Daniko Jackson, at 5-foot-10, dribbled to the basket where 6-9 Silva and 7-1 Jason Cudd were waiting.
Jackson’s shot attempt was quickly knocked away.
Then again, the Crusaders kept their heads up. After North Greenville’s Roderick Howell blocked 6-9 Felipe Haase shot, he took off down the court and finished an alley-oop bucket after a sweet pass from Ryan Mobley.
By then, South Carolina was ahead by 21 points and not letting up.
These Division II contests have been a tradition of Gamecocks coach Frank Martin, a high-profile shout out to in-state programs that generally fly under the radar. South Carolina has played Coker, Francis Marion, Lander and Limestone the previous few seasons, all in late December — and all, as expected, sizeable Gamecock wins.
Caleb Arrington had 13 points to lead North Greenville.
Things turned scary for the Gamecocks in the second half when Silva, a senior who was the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year last winter, hit the floor hard and did not get up quickly. Martin and the training staff came out to check and Silva eventually walked it off to the bench. He stayed on the sidelines the rest of the way.
North Greenville: The Crusaders have a difficult week ahead following up this game with one at Lincoln Memorial on New Year’s Day, some 300 miles northwest of the Colonial Life Arena in Harrogate, Tennessee. North Greenville plays twice more this week with home games Thursday and Saturday.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks got a good workout and the return of starting forward Maik Kotsar, who had missed the previous two games since a loss to Michigan. He was placed in the concussion protocol after getting hurt in practice some two weeks back.
North Greenville plays at Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday.
South Carolina opens Southeastern Conference play at Florida on Saturday.
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