Chatkevicius’ Career Night Powers Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — Headed up by a career night from senior Laimonas Chatkevicius, the South Carolina men‘s basketball team battered and bruised its way to an 84-66 win over Oral Roberts (1-1) Monday night. Four Gamecocks would score in double figures as the team went inside early and often to take down the Golden Eagles and move to 2-0 this season. A thorough crashing of the boards would make the difference for the Gamecocks early, as both teams struggled from the field. The home side would gain 10 of their first 14 points on second-chance opportunities through the first 10 minutes of the game and would take a modest lead. The opposing defenses would continue to be the star attraction of the half, with the Gamecocks‘ physical man-to-man countered by Oral Roberts‘ sagging zone. The Eagles went through almost four minutes between its first and second field goals of the game, and over five minutes between the third and fourth field goals made. Carolina would have to wait 13 minutes before being able to keep the ORU zone honest with a 3-pointer, Duane Notice broke through with a make with 7:11 to play. Oral Roberts scored on seven straight possessions to break out of the slow start and took a 28-21 lead into the final four minutes of the opening half. South Carolina would counter with a run of its own, using 3s from Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell to start a 12-2 run over the final three minutes of play. Carolina carried a 33-30 lead into halftime. Both sides would come out of the break with a revised scheme on offense, and it paid off. The two would make 8-of-14 shots in the first four minutes. Behind their senior guard Obi Emegano, the Eagles would tie the game up at 38-all, but Carolina reeled off a 19-4 run over the next five minutes to take a firm grip on the lead, 57-42. The game-defining run was fueled by an inside-outside scoring combination of Chatkevicius and Notice; the two scored 15 of the team‘s first 24 points of the second half. Notice continued to excel in the sixth man role, scoring 18 points for the game, and Chatkevicius was just as effective, albeit from shorter range. The senior forward went for a career-high 27 points for the night, 19 in the final 20 minutes. The Eagles were unable to recover from the run, due in large part to not being able to find varied options on offense. Emegano would ultimately account for 31 points – the next-highest scorer for the visitors chipped in just 12 and no other player had more than six. An eight-minute scoring drought for him mid-way through the period would be a factor in Carolina‘s big run. The Gamecocks would see the lead grow to 19, 67-48, and held a double-digit advantage for the remainder of the game. The interior depth of the Garnet and Black would be too much to bear for Oral Roberts, with Chatkevicius, Mindaugas Kacinas Michael Carrera and Eric Cobb pouring in 33 second-half points in the post. GAMECHANGER With the game tied at 38 early in the second half, Carolina reeled off a 19-4 run in a five-minute span to take a double-digit lead it would never relinquish. Five different Gamecocks contributed scoring during the run. KEY STAT The Gamecocks finished with a 19-4 advantage in offensive rebounds, ORU would get its 1st offensive rebound at 18:21 of the second half. Thanks to that, the home side enjoyed a 25-6 advantage in second-chance points. UP NEXT South Carolina travels to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands for the 2015 Paradise Jam, which begins Friday when the Gamecocks take on DePaul. The Blue Demons hold a 4-2 lead in the all-time series between the two schools and Friday‘s meeting will be the first neutral site meeting in the series. Friday‘s matchup will be televised on CBS Sports Network at 6 p.m. ET. The Gamecocks will play either Florida State or Hofstra in the second round. NOTABLE Tonight was the third meeting ever between the two schools, the first since 1989. Senior Mindaugas Kacinas quietly had one of his best games in the Garnet and Black. The forward recorded his fourth career double double, with 13 rebounds to go with 12 points. He led the team with 33 minutes played, with the team at a plus-26 margin when he was on the court. The 51 points scored by Carolina in the second half was the most since putting up 52 against UNC Asheville on Nov. 26 of last season. Despite the slow start shooting the ball, the South Carolina offense made very few mental mistakes. The team committed just six turnovers in the game, the lowest since Dec. 23, 2013 against Boise State. It is tied for the fewest turnovers in the Frank Martin era. QUOTABLE: HEAD COACH FRANK MARTIN Opening Statement “That was a good win for us. I was concerned with these first two games. Both teams won more games than us last year and they both returned their guards, and anytime you have upperclassmen guards, and players like the young man Obi [Emegano], a conference player of the year, it‘s a heck of a challenge early in the year. Yesterday‘s practice was the first time all year we just weren‘t very good. I‘m not going to sit here and pass blame on who wasn‘t good, but I think it was a good learning lesson for us. That‘s why we were out of character the first half of the game. We settled for off the dribble jump shots, which is exactly what we said not to do. Get the ball inside, that‘s all we talked about after our game on Saturday and yesterday in practice, and it happens sometimes. We settled for jump shots which then they got older shooter guys who know and they come at you. But then we settled down, and did the opposite. The good thing was the passing, and we really got theball inside, Michael [Carrera} kind of got the momentum going, and Laimonas[Chatkevicius] obviously became a huge presence around the rim, and Mindaugas [Kacinas], can‘t say enough about him, we get so many possessions in a game because of his relentless desire on the offensive rebound. Two good solid wins for our team.”

Categories: Local News, Sports, USC Gamecocks