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South Carolina 71, Allen 43: notes and observations from USC's exhibition win

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South Carolina's lone exhibition game before they face Norfolk State in this week's season opener was on Sunday against Allen University. Didn't watch the game? Here is what you missed.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina men's basketball team began the year with a 71-43 win over Allen University on Sunday afternoon. The game was the Gamecocks lone exhibition before they face Norfolk State in Saturday's season opener. Here are some observations and notes from Sunday's matchup:

  • Sunday's starters were Duane Notice, Sindarius Thornwell, Michael Carrera, Chris Silva and Laimonas Chatkevicius. Mindaugas Kacinas did not play due to back pain. Kacinas' back pain isn't anything to worry about as the team said he would play if it was a regular season game.
  • Silva got the start and he wasn't the rim protector he was billed to be on Sunday but he cleaned up the glass. The freshman pulled down 10 boards on the day. He's physical and it'll take him time to get used to the new competition, but he'll contribute from day one.
  • After missing last season with a debilitating hip injury, TeMarcus Blanton was one of six players to make their debut on Sunday. He was one of the first players to check in off the bench and the wing made his presence known right away with a rebound and a put-back in his first set of possessions. After the game, Blanton said his debut was, "one of the scariest moments of my life," and mentioned he was shaking when he took the floor. He's on a full practice schedule now and says he feels his hip is getting stronger.
  • The staples of Frank Martin teams, rebounding and defense, were on display against Allen. The Gamecocks grabbed 69 rebounds with 30 of them being offensive boards. Martin's pressuring defense held Allen scoreless for the first six minutes of the game.
  • The Gamecocks turned the ball over an ugly 26 times on Sunday, mostly due to poor point guard play. Sindarius Thornwell handled the ball the majority of the game since P.J. Dozier missed most of the week with an illness. Dozier, a freshman, could handle most of the point guard duties this season. Thornwell stated after the game that the point guard play needs to be better.
  • While Thornwell, Notice and Dozier will all have their turn this season as the primary ball-handler, Marcus Stroman is the best distributor on the team to me. He dished a team-high five assists on Sunday and his feel for the game's flow and where to put his teammates is something the others do not possess.
  • Dozier, a former McDonald's All-American, made his highly anticipated debut for the Gamecocks. He was nervous throughout most of the game, forcing shots and poor passes but you can see why he can be so good. His most underrated attribute though - he'll be a tremendous rebounder for his position with his length and athleticism.
  • Thornwell led the way with 17 points but most importantly, had an efficient outing in the process as he shot 6-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-6 from deep. Chatkevicius filled the stat sheet with a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double.
  • South Carolina's depth was very apparent on Sunday, and in more ways than one. Chatkevicius relayed to the media after the game that the team was having to share seats on the bench.
  • Another year, another set of competition points to emphasize for college basketball refs. As hoops referees get used to this season's package, expect 45-50 foul calls and longer games. Hand-checking will be watched closely and it could get Michael Carrera in trouble as he spends more time on the wing. The senior fouled out with 10 minutes remaining on Sunday.
  • Frank Martin still does not know who his starting five will be on opening night. Chatkevicius and Thornwell seem to be sure-fire starters. Martin is probably pondering whether to start Notice or Dozier in the backcourt with Thornwell. He also is likely choosing between Carrera, Kacinas and Silva for two spots. I'm intrigued by a Dozier-Notice-Thornwell-Silva-Chatkevicius lineup at some point this season.
  • High school phenom Seventh Woods caught the game from the front row on Sunday. He sat with women's basketball stars A'ja Wilson and Tiffany Mitchell as well as Dozier's sister and father. Woods will choose between the Gamecocks, North Carolina and Georgetown on Wednesday morning.