South Carolina vs. Hofstra
WATCH: CBS Sports Network, 9:00 p.m. ET
*Streaming is also available on ParadiseJam.com*
South Carolina swapped one Lithuanian performance for another when they opened the 2015 Paradise Jam Friday night. Four nights after Laimonas Chatkevicius poured in a career-high 27 points in a win over Oral Roberts, Mindaugas Kacinas tallied a career-high 23 points in a tourney opening win in St. Thomas over DePaul.
Kacinas' career mark was fueled by several trips to the free throw line. The senior forward passed his career high for free throw makes and free throw attempts at halftime. With the win over DePaul, the Gamecocks advanced in the winner's bracket and will face Hofstra on Sunday night in the Paradise Jam's second round.
South Carolina is 5-0 all-time against Hofstra, but the two schools have not met since the 1981-82 season. The game Sunday night will mark USC's fourth game in the last nine days. The Pride advanced to the winner's bracket after a surprising 82-77 upset of Florida State in the tournament's opening game.
Hofstra is 3-0 on the season and have five players averaging double-figures. Brian Bernardi leads the group, scoring 19.0 points per game. Juan'ya Green averages 16.7 points and Ameen Tanksley averages 14.3 per game. Denton Koon tallies 13.3 per contest and Rokas Gustys has averaged a double-double through three games, scoring 11.0 points per game and pulling down 12.3 rebounds per outing.
Green isn't far behind from a double-double per game as the senior guard dishes 8.7 assists per game. Gustys pulled down 11 rebounds against the Seminoles while Bernardi paced Hofstra with 24 points in the contest. The sophomore wing connected on six three-pointers in the game, five of them coming in the first half.
The Pride shot 46.6 percent from the floor and it'll be up to the Gamecock defense to slow them down. USC held DePaul to 36.5 percent shooting from the field, including 21.4 percent from deep.
South Carolina will need to secure as many possessions as possible and take as many extra chances as they can against Hofstra's potent offense. The Gamecocks do not trap to create steals and extra possessions, they fly towards the glass, hoping to grab offensive boards. Kacinas has been a menace on the offensive boards this season and has averaged 7.3 rebounds per game on the year.
Sindarius Thornwell did not shoot well from the field against the Blue Demons, but he did earn his fourth double-double of the season. His 10-point, 10-rebound outing got lost in the fold of Kacinas' performance.
With a win tonight, the Gamecocks will face the winner of Indiana State-Tulsa in the Paradise Jam's championship game on Monday night.