Lamont Paris’ South Carolina basketball team in 6-0 after beating Notre Dame in the ACC/SEC Challenge earlier this week. The fighting quarter zips are off to their best start since the Final Four season of 2016-2017.
Up next on the schedule was a home contest against the George Washington Revolutionaries. Last year, GW whipped the Gamecocks in Washington DC by 24 points. The Gamecocks had revenge on their mind on Friday, but George Washington was not going to make it easy. No longer known as the Colonials, the 6-1 Revolutionaries are off to their best start since 2015-2016.
Collin Murray-Boyles, who had missed every game of the 6-0 start battling mononucleosis, was in uniform for the first time on Friday. The return was much sooner than expected as he did not practice until this Wednesday. The starters remained unchanged for the Gamecocks, however, as the first five were Ta’Lon Cooper, Meechie Johnson, Myles Stute, BJ Mack, and Stephen Clark.
After starting the Notre Dame game shooting 0-5, the Gamecocks hit their first shot when Myles Stute hit a pull-up jumper from the free throw line. The lead exploded out to 8-1 after Meechie Johnson and Ta’Lon Cooper hit 3-point shots.
The lead swelled to 13-3 after another Meechie Johnson deep ball, but the Revolutionaries clawed back into the game a bit, cutting the deficit to 17-9.
The teams traded buckets, but the lead shrunk even more as all three of GW’s makes came from behind the arc. At the second media timeout, the score stood 24-18. After the break, the two teams hit three 3-pointers in a row, but the Gamecocks got the better end of things with BJ Mack and Morris Ugusuk hitting outside jumpers. Darren Buchanon’s sandwiched 3-pointer brought his scoring total to 8 points in the first 13 minutes of the game.
GW cut the lead to 4 as the Gamecocks went on a 3-minute scoring drought, but a Cooper 3-ball ended the drought and pushed their lead to 33-26. The shot began a 7-0 run that took just one minute before the final media timeout of the half.
As the final buzzer of the half sounded, the Gamecocks found themselves ahead by 10, 42-32, despite getting beaten handily on the boards. The shooting advantage was large for the home team as Carolina shot 52%/50%/100% compared to GW’s 36%/36%/75%.
After the intermission, the Revolutionaries scored the first two baskets, but another USC 3-pointer (this one from BJ Mack) moved the lead back to 9 points.
A few possessions later, Stephen Clark had his best stretch of the season, grabbing an impressive offensive rebound over the athletic frontcourt of the Revolutionaries and then tipping another right to BJ Mack for a layup.
A 3-12 start to the half didn’t hurt the Gamecocks too much as George Washington made just 4 shots. The slow shooting stretched to 3-15 before the Gamecocks’ two best scorers made back-to-back-to-back shots. Meechie Johnson made an and-one layup (and the free throw), and BJ Mack scored strong in the post before knocking down a top-of-the-key 3-pointer.
A Zach Davis 3-pointer was followed by Mack’s third long ball of the game, and all of a sudden, a close game was no longer close. In all, it was a 14-0 run for the Gamecocks that pushed their lead to 65-45.
The Revs’ James Bishop hit three quick 3-pointers, but eight straight points from Ta’Lon Cooper and Meechie Johnson brought the scoring margin back to 19 points with about 8 minutes left in the game.
Myles Stute put himself into double-figures with a really nicely positioned dribble drive, finishing through contact, and Johnson hit his 4th 3-pointer to put his scoring total over 20 points for the 2nd straight night. On the next time down the floor, Ta’Lon Cooper tied a South Carolina basketball record by hitting the Cocks’ 16th 3-pointer of the game. The rout was officially on, 81-59.
Collin Murray-Boyles saw his first Gamecock action with about 3 minutes left on the clock, and Meechie Johnson broke the 3-point record with his 5th make from downtown. CMB scored the next bucket on a nice pass from BJ Mack, a layup through contact.
Morris Ugusuk extended the new school record to 18 3-point makes, and South Carolina basketball cruised to a 89-67 victory to get their revenge against GW.