South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks move to 6-0 after being Notre Dame in ACC/SEC Challenge

South Carolina basketball will shoot the ball from outside a lot in the 2023-2024 season. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball will shoot the ball from outside a lot in the 2023-2024 season. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /
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Lamont Paris’ South Carolina basketball team hasn’t played in over a week since becoming the champions of the Arizona Tipoff Tournament. The 5-0 Gamecocks had another interesting test on Tuesday night against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

The game against Notre Dame was special for a couple of reasons. It was special because it was part of the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. It was also special because Notre Dame coach Micah Shrewsberry and Lamont Paris had faced off before. However, despite both of them being younger coaches, their first meeting was 23 years ago.

In 2000, when Shrewsberry was an assistant at D-III Wabash and Paris was as assistant at D-III Depauw, the two coached against each other for the first time. The two also coached against each other in the Big 10 when they were at Purdue (Shrewsberry) and Wisconsin (Paris).

On Tuesday, they had their first opportunity as head coaches to face off.

The contest began with both teams missing multiple shots in ugly fashion before stretch forward JR Konieczny hit a 3-point jumper for the Fighting Irish. The Gamecocks began the game on a scoreless run that lasted over 5 minutes as nothing was falling for the home team.

Mercifully, after the first media timeout, two BJ Mack free throws ended the 8-0 run for Notre Dame. The offense didn’t exactly pick up in a big way after that as the score stood 11-6 with 13:00 left the half after Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk made a second-chance bucket.

The Gamecocks went just 1-7 from the floor in the game’s first 9 minutes, but even so, a Jacobi Wright 3-pointer cut their deficit to 13-11, and a Meechie Johnson deep ball gave South Carolina basketball its first lead at 14-13 with 10:00 left in the half.

A few minutes later, another Gamecock 3 (this one from BJ Mack) moved the run to 9-0, but they weren’t done shooting from outside yet. After another Meechie Johnson make from downtown, the Gamecocks were 5-14 from the field but 4-11 from behind the arc.

Notre Dame’s athletic defense continued to cause problems for the Gamecocks in the dribble-drive game, but Lamont Paris’ team was able to make enough jumpers to lead 24-21 at the final media timeout of the half.

Another Konieczny 3-ball tied things at 24-24, but Ta’Lon Cooper answered by drawing a foul and knocking down the freebies. After a couple of back-and-forth buckets, a Meechie Johnson 3-pointer (his 13th, 14th, and 15th points of the game) untied the game and sent Carolina to the locker room with a 31-28 lead.

The 2nd half started with Stephen Clark seeing the floor for the first time since the 18:00 mark of the 1st half. He made it a little longer on the floor this time, staying on the court for the first 3 minutes.

Lamont Paris’ team continued to draw fouls on Notre Dame, sticking two on the Irish in the first 30 seconds after the intermission. After 2 minutes, the Irish had 4 fouls.

Unfortunately for South Carolina basketball fans, the Gamecocks weren’t able to extend their lead with those fouls because they started the half missing their first 5 shots (the same 0-5 start they had to start the game). In fact, Notre Dame took the lead 36-34 after a 6-0 run from Braeden Shrewsberry (coach’s son) and big man Tae Davis.

Meechie Johnson’s 6th made shot tied the game 38-38, but the Gamecocks continued to struggle putting together solid offense. Almost every possession ended with a jump shot or an out-of-control drive, allowing Notre Dame to retake the lead.

As part of an ugly stretch of basketball between the two squads, BJ Mack missed a wide-open dunk because he took off too far from the hoop. He quickly atoned by gathering a loose ball that was tipped away by Jacobi Wright and made a bully-ball layup on the other end.

Despite having just four players make a shot up to that point, the Gamecocks led 42-40 with 11:44 left in the half. A few BJ Mack-centered possessions later (a bucket and an assist), and the Gamecocks had their biggest lead of the night 46-41.

The younger Shrewsberry shot back-to-back airballs near the Gamecock student section, and the freshly re-inserted Meechie Johnson made a fast break layup to force the elder Shrewsberry to take a timeout. After the timeout, he tied his career-high of 26 points with another 3-pointer.

The run stretched to 7-0 and 13-1 before Notre Dame scored again on a Tae Davis and-one on a post-up. After the Irish basket and free throw, USC led 51-44 with about 6:30 left on the clock.

A career-high 28 points for #5 came on a mid-range jumper, and Mack pushed his scoring total to 15 to extend the Gamecock lead to 11 points at 57-46.

From there, Carolina put it in cruise control but held on for the comfortable win, extending their undefeated start to 6-0.

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