South Carolina displayed signs of lethargy at the beginning of its SEC encounter against Texas A&M Saturday at Colonial Life Arena.
After watching the Aggies score the first nine points of the game, the Gamecocks decided it was time to play.
With Jermaine Couisnard and AJ Lawson leading the way, the Gamecocks exploded to claim a 74-54 victory over the A&M.
The win not only gave South Carolina a sweep of the season series, it improved its record to 14-9 overall and 6-4 in league play.
Couisnard (19) and Lawson (18) led the Gamecocks in scoring, while Maik Kotsar chipped in 10. In addition to grabbing three rebounds, the senior led the team with four assists and four steals.
“We came out and played with tremendous energy, tremendous aggression without fouling [and] discipline,” said head coach Frank Martin. “When our two guards score, we usually give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Gamecocks limited the Aggies to only 15 made field goals in 55 attempts (27.3 percent). They forced 20 turnovers and out-rebounded their opponents by three (41-38).
TAMU coach Buzz Williams wasn’t surprised with how South Carolina defeated his squad, because he had seen it before.
“Their game plan against us was the same, just bully us,” Williams said. “They’ve got enough guys that we weren’t a problem. We started good. We’re not known for good starts, but this was arguably our best start this season. After the first time out, they outscored us 15-3 and we subbed everybody out.”
In addition to hitting five of 12 fields goals, which included two 3-pointers, Couisnard made seven of nine free throws, had four rebounds and three assists.
“In the heart of the moment, the taller he stands,” said Martin. “Jermaine is fearless in the moment. Those are the kind of players coaches don't lose a lot of sleep over because he is so intelligent. He holds everyone accountable.”
“He does a really good job of forcing you to help because he is so potent with the ball in his hands,” Williams said of Couisnard. “We were in rotation because he forces us to scramble the rest of the possession.”
Martin also inserted Alanzo Frink into the starting lineup. While he didn't have big statistical numbers, he blocked three shots and gave the Gamecocks a defensive presence in the paint.
“I thought Alanzo probably played his best half of basketball,” said Martin. “He’s had moments where maybe he has rebounded and scored more points but his discipline, his ball-screen defense, his energy and then protecting the rim. He’s a big ole kid. He might not be the tallest guy in the world, but he has long arms.
“What helped him was I thought our guards defended really well. Their defense was probably as good as it’s been all year in that first half.”
The victory was much needed following a road loss at Old Miss earlier in the week. In order to remain in contention for a potential NCAA Tournament bid, the Gamecocks will have to finish the season with a strong run as it has little room for error.
South Carolina returns to action Wednesday when it travels to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs.