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South Carolina at #20 in AP poll; Sindarius Thornwell is SEC player of the week

The Gamecocks break into the national rankings after beating two top-25 teams last week.

NCAA Basketball: Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational-South Carolina vs Syracuse Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

No surprise, but the Gamecocks found themselves in the AP Top 25 after victories over #25 Michigan at home and #18 Syracuse in Brooklyn last week. South Carolina came in at #20, one of three SEC teams in the poll (#1 Kentucky and #24 Florida). Michigan and Syracuse’s losses dropped them: the Orange fell to #22, while the Wolverines dropped out altogether but received 13 votes.

So far, so good for the Gamecocks, but Frank Martin will be on his team to keep it rolling as Vermont steps into Colonial Life Arena on Thursday evening. One of the points he mentioned during his weekly press conference was the importance of leadership keeping the team on level ground.

They’ve gotten that and more from Sindarius Thornwell, and as he continues to drive the team, the hope is that it will trickle down to other players. Thornwell is averaging 20 points and seven rebounds an outing in the season’s first six games, with last week’s performance (18.5 ppg, 8 rpg, 4 apg in two games) earning him SEC player of the week honors. Maintaining something resembling that pace will be key as the team gets into the meat of the conference slate in January, and even through the rest of the non-conference slate over the next few weeks.

Martin also talked about the importance of the team staying grounded. While the team is off to a perfect start, Martin mentioned that the team must continue to take it a game at a time, focusing on each opponent rather than their 6-0 record.

Also: Frank Martin is good at math. (He was a math teacher, after all.) Actually, he was promoting the launch of Martin’s Math Club, a program open to K-8 students and teachers across the state of South Carolina.

Vermont is next up for the Gamecocks on Thursday night, a 6:30 p.m. tip at Colonial Life Arena. The Catamounts are 6-2 with wins over Quinnipiac, Marist, D2 Lyndon State, Wofford, Hofstra and Yale. It’s only the second all-time meeting between the two schools, the last one coming on December 29, 1979, a 66-65 Gamecocks win.