The South Carolina men’s basketball team continues to deliver the goods for beleaguered football fans, this time cruising past Cleveland State 90-63 on Friday night for their third straight win to open the 2019-20 campaign.
The Vikings didn’t play along nicely in the first half, though, rallying from an early 17-point deficit and forcing the Gamecocks to take just a 45-40 lead into the locker room. But much as it did against Wyoming, South Carolina went full throttle in the second half, using an 18-2 run to bury any semblance of a Cleveland State threat.
Sophomore forward and projected NBA Draft pick A.J. Lawson was the star of the show, going for a career-high 28 points in 29 minutes and making 12 of his 13 free throw attempts. Jair Bolden (12 points) and Alanzo Frink (11) also reached double figures for the Gamecocks, with Bolden making two of his four three-pointers and Frink grabbing the first double-double of his career with 10 rebounds.
Freshman forward Wildens Leveque came off the bench to add 12 points, and Jermaine Couisnard went 3-for-4 from long distance.
Oddly, Justin Minaya was held scoreless, and Maik Kotsar continues to have a quiet start to the season with just a five-point outing. While Minaya has been productive to this point, it goes without saying that Kotsar, a senior, will need to step it up when conference play arrives.
Overall, South Carolina held Cleveland State to 39% shooting from the floor and a dismal 11% from beyond the arc, also out-rebounding the Vikings 47-41.
The Gamecocks (3-0) are back in action against Boston University (1-2) on Tuesday at 7 p.m., hosting the Terriers as part of the Cancun Challenge.