Losing Sindarius Thornwell, the leader of this basketball team hurt. That much was easy to see today as South Carolina took on Florida International, of which coach Frank Martin is an alumni. Defensively, the team looked out of rhythm and allowed FIU to shoot 41.3% from the field, almost ten percent better than South Carolina has let up all season. Although Carolina won by sixteen, the game seemed a lot closer at times due to sloppy play. Interior scoring wasn’t like it has been in games past, with Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar scoring 12 points combined on 4 of 15 shooting. But despite the struggles, this game turned out to be the P.J. and Duane show.
When a star player has to sit out a game, it is crucial for other players to step up and fill the scoring and defensive void. Today, those players were Duane Notice and P.J. Dozier, who scored 22 and 20 points respectively. All game Notice was lighting it up from behind the arc, ending up with six made three-pointers. P.J. Dozier did it all, stuffing the stat sheet with 20 points to go along with four steals, seven rebounds, and three assists. Another key stat: Chris Silva’s five blocks, continuing the imposing interior defense this Gamecock team has boasted all season.
Today was an important win for several reasons: One, South Carolina remains the only undefeated team in the SEC, and one of only eleven in the entire country. Two: today players like P.J. Dozier and Duane Notice showed that they can pick up the slack while Thornwell is suspended. When he comes back this team will hopefully be playing at a high level, and with his addition, could make some serious noise in SEC play.