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Gamecocks open Charleston Classic with win over Cornell

South Carolina pulled away from their Ivy League opponents early in the second half to open the Charleston Classic with a win.

Sindarius Thornwell led Carolina to victory on Thursday night.
Sindarius Thornwell led Carolina to victory on Thursday night.
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina rebounded nicely from their first loss of the season on Tuesday, overwhelming Cornell via turnovers and rebounding on their way to a 69-45 victory on Thursday night.  With the win, the Gamecocks advanced to the semifinals of the Charleston Classic, where they'll play a Charlotte team that knocked off Penn State in double overtime on Thursday.

Advanced Box Score
Cornell USC
45 Score 69
0.684 PPP 1.049
0.922 Non-TO: 1.259
66 possessions
14-52 FG 22-58
5-20 3P 8-22
12-16 FT 17-21
10 OREB 14
22 DREB 30
17 TO 11
Four Factors
31.73% eFG 44.83%
25.84% TO 16.72%
25.00% OReb 38.89%
30.77% FTR 36.21%
28.13% 2P% 38.89%
25.00% 3P% 36.36%
38.46% 3PA% 37.93%
75.00% FT% 80.95%
PPP = Points per poss.
Non-TO = PPP on non-turnover poss.
eFG = (2PM+(1.5*3PM))/FGA
3PA% = 3PA/FGA

Three Thoughts

1. Sindarius Thornwell played like the best player on the court tonight. His 14 points don't look overwhelming on the score sheet, but he did most of his damage in the first half, helping a Carolina team that never really got going on offense in the game on that end of the court while the Gamecocks kept Cornell from scoring on their side of the court.

It was never really in doubt, but Sindarius Thornwell looks ready to produce in his sophomore season in Columbia, and that's great news for Frank Martin and his teammates.

2. The Gamecocks dominated Cornell on the defensive end. As the second half progressed, Cornell woke up a bit on offense as each team emptied their benches and rested players for the upcoming games tomorrow.  However, during points of the second half, Cornell challenged the record for both the lowest points per possession by any opponent against Frank Martin at Carolina - currently 0.616 in the 2014 season opener against Longwood - as well as the highest turnover percentage by any opponent against a Frank Martin-coached Gamecock team, which remains at 33.6% in their second game against Akron last year.

Basically, when you hold teams to 0.684 points per possession, you're going to win basically every time out.  The story of the night was the Gamecocks' utter domination of Cornell basically everywhere on the defensive end.  South Carolina should've dominated Cornell defensively, so it's a great sign to see them live up to that ability.

3. If you dominate elsewhere, you can survive woeful shooting nights. For the second straight outing, the Gamecocks simply didn't shoot very well, posting a sub-40% rate on two-point field goals.  Otherwise, they were just fine - they protected the ball, they hoarded offensive rebounds, and they found their way to the free throw line.

Do all those things, and you can still put up 1.05 points per possession, which is a decent enough effort, and can get you through so long as you play good defense on the other end.  But if South Carolina has ambitions of winning tomorrow, let alone beating Miami (or perhaps Akron) on Sunday, they have to shoot the ball better.

Not everyone's going to let you run them off the court in the other areas - when you have shots, you have to hit them.  The Gamecocks did a better job of getting to the rim against the zone tonight, but 4-12 on lay-ups simply isn't good enough against better teams.