South Carolina vs. Oral Roberts
WATCH: SEC Network, 7:30 p.m. ET
South Carolina opened their season with an 84-69 win over Norfolk State on Saturday night. They are on the floor again, just 48 hours later as the Gamecocks play host to Oral Roberts.
ORU began their 2015-16 campaign on Friday night, defeating Missouri State 80-65. The Golden Eagles were picked to finish third in the Summit League this preseason. Like Norfolk State on Saturday, Oral Roberts is led by their backcourt. Senior guard Obi Emegano, the Summit League's preseason player of the year, is the player to watch. He averaged 18.9 points per game last season and tallied 15 in the opener. His backcourt mate, junior guard Jalen Bradley, led the Golden Eagles with 16 points on Friday night.
Oral Roberts will likely unveil a zone defense after seeing the trouble it caused South Carolina on Saturday. Frank Martin said after the opening win that there was not enough time to watch this film and that his staff was going straight to full ORU game prep. Without even watching the film, Martin and other watchful eyes could tell the Gamecocks struggled with the Spartans' zone.
USC managed 84 points in the contest but the team had too many stretches without field goals, relying on the charity stripe to build their lead. The 42 free throws attempted vs. Norfolk State marked the most by a South Carolina team under Frank Martin. No matter which lineup was on the floor, the ball either stuck or players were not attacking until late in the shot clock. Luckily, Norfolk State's tight defense and the new points of emphasis for referees led to an incredible amount of foul calls to bail the offense out.
Martin said after the game that his team needs to do a better job of getting the ball inside against the zone. If if it can do that, USC can attack the defense from within, setting up a point man for a pass or creating a situation where a skilled big can make one quick move and score. Senior Laimonas Chatkevicius scored 13 points on Saturday night. He could be the big South Carolina plays through Monday night.
Freshman forward Chris Silva almost tallied a double-double in his debut, going for 12 points and nine rebounds. Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice led the team with 14 points each on Saturday.
This is South Carolina's second game of a stretch where they play five games in ten days. They'll head to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the 2015 Paradise Jam after this game. The Gamecocks have won their last 10 openers, but they haven't started the season 2-0 since 2012. They'll have that opportunity tonight.