South Carolina (8-3) vs. Manhattan (3-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 22, 5:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (17,732) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: None. Home Record: South Carolina 6-2, Manhattan 2-0. Away Record: South Carolina 0-1, Manhattan 1-5. Neutral Record: South Carolina 2-0, Manhattan 0-1. Conference Record: South Carolina 0-0, Manhattan 1-1. Series Record: South Carolina leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: The South Carolina Gamecocks and the Manhattan Jaspers square off at the Barclays Center on Saturday night as part of the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational.
South Carolina has found new life this season under first-year head coach Frank Martin, as its eight wins are just two fewer than it registered all last season. Since falling to St. John's on Nov. 29 in the SEC/Big East Challenge (89-65), the Gamecocks have ripped off three straight wins over Clemson (64-55), Jacksonville (91-74) and Appalachian State (74-69).
Manhattan hasn't been able to get much going through the first nine games, as it has yet to register back-to-back wins on its way to a 3-6 records. The Jaspers have lost three of their last four games, most recently falling on the wrong side of a blowout verdict against Long Island last Sunday, 75-48.
The Gamecocks have a handle on the all-time series with Manhattan, 5-2, but the teams have not met since the 1980-81 season.
South Carolina was tied with Appalachian State with under five minutes to play in its latest game, but it proceeded to go on a 9-0 run to pull away down the stretch. Pacing the squad in the victory was Lakeem Jackson, who shot 8-of-11 from the floor on his way to a season-high 16 points. Mindaugas Kacinas tallied a true double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while adding three blocked shots, and Brenton Williams (11 points) and Eric Smith (nine assists) were also effective. On the season, the Gamecocks have had difficulty keeping opponents off the scoreboard (71.2 ppg), but they are able to make up for it by shooting 46.3 percent from the field for 74.3 ppg, and by winning the battle on the boards by 9.4 rpg. Williams averages 13.0 ppg thanks in large part to an outstanding 18-of-36 showing from 3-point range. LaShay Page (11.7 ppg), Michael Carrera (10.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Jackson (9.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) have been integral pieces, and Bruce Ellington has tallied 9.8 ppg in four games since returning to the lineup following the end of football season.
Success was difficult to come by for Manhattan in its loss to LIU-Brooklyn, whether it be from the field (.302), 3-point range (.190), or the foul line (.545). Emmy Andujar tallied 12 points and five rebounds in the setback, while Michael Alvarado and Donovan Kates scored 10 points apiece. The Jaspers' offensive numbers have been better for the season as a whole, but not by much, as they make a lowly 39 percent of their field goal attempts in netting a mere 58 ppg. A big reason for their decreased production lately has been due to the absence of leading scorer George Beamon (16.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg), who has missed the last three games and five contests overall due to injury. Without Beamon, Alvarado (11.2 ppg) takes over as the No. 1 option, although his .402 field goal percentage is less than ideal. Rhamel Brown is the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and he is averaging 9.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg and 1.0 spg this season.
South Carolina has been playing inspired basketball in the early part of the season under its new head coach, while the same can not be said for Manhattan. The Jaspers have the geographical advantage in this neutral-court affair, but that won't be enough to take down the rolling Gamecocks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Carolina 71, Manhattan 61
12/22 10:32:57 ET