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Gamecocks Begin SEC Tournament Action Friday Afternoon

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Gamecocks Begin SEC Tournament Action Friday Afternoon

Men's Basketball | 3/14/2019 | From USC Sports Informaton | GCF Staff Report

NASHVILLE, TENN. - South Carolina (16-15, 11-7 SEC) has earned the number four seed in this week's SEC Tournament, which is being held in Nashville, Tenn., at Bridgestone Arena, and will begin Tournament action on Friday afternoon against the winner of the No. 5 seed Auburn vs. No. 12 seed Missouri contest, which will be played on Thursday.  The Gamecocks look for their first semifinal berth in the event since 2006.  Karl Ravech (play-by-play), Jimmy Dykes (analyst) and Laura Rutledge (sidelines) will be on the call for the ESPN broadcast.

> For the second consecutive season, Gamecock senior standout Chris Silva has been named to the All-SEC First Team and the All-Defensive Team by the league's coaches, while rookie guard A.J. Lawson was named to the All-Freshman Team and senior guard Hassani Gravett was named the SEC Sixth Man of the Year.  
> Silva becomes the first Gamecock to earn First-Team honors in consecutive seasons since Carolina great Devan Downey was named to the First Team in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  Silva led the Gamecocks in conference contests this season in points (16.3), rebounds (7.9) and blocks per game (2.1).  He was 53.3 percent from the field, connected on 14-of-28 attempts from 3, and was 102-of-130 at the foul line (78.5%) in SEC play.
> Lawson was second on the team with 14.0 points per SEC contest, before missing the last three games of conference play with an ankle injury.  He had nine double-figure scoring contests in league games, eight matchups with three or more assists and also pulled down 4.2 rebounds per outing.  Lawson marks the first Gamecock on the All-Freshman Team since Sindarius Thornwell (2014) and the third in Martin's seven seasons at Carolina, as Michael Carrera (2013) also earned All-Freshman Team accolades during his career.
> Gravett has put together the best season of his career in 2018-19, posting career highs in nearly every statistical category.  In league play, Gravett had 13 double-figure scoring games, 11 contests with three or more 3-pointers and he recorded three or more assists eight times.  After starting 22 contests a year ago, Gravett embraced his role off the bench this season, thriving during his senior season.  Gravett is Carolina's third Sixth Man of the Year in program history, and the second under Martin, as Gamecock standout Duane Notice earned the honor in 2016.

> Senior forward Chris Silva also garnered postseason accolades from the media for the first time in his career, collecting Second Team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press on Monday.  He was also named to the Preseason All-SEC First Team by the AP last fall.  

> Senior guard Hassani Gravett was named to the SEC Community Service Team earlier this week.  Gravett has been very active in community outreach projects throughout his career in the Garnet and Black. The Villa Rica, Ga., native has spent time with military members and their families at Fort Jackson in Columbia and the Ray Tanner Home Run 5K. He also volunteered with the Richland County Sheriff's Department, the City of Columbia, Special Olympics and the Epworth Children's Home through the team's 8K in 8 Days initiative.  During his senior season, Gravett has spent time at the Palmetto Children's Hospital, worked with the Salvation Army, worked with youth on the fundamentals of basketball at St. Andrews, Polo Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Parks with the City of Columbia. He also helped out at a Wounded Warriors event in the fall.

> South Carolina rides a two-game win streak into SEC Tournament action, after posting a road win at Texas A&M (March 5) and a home victory over Georgia to conclude the regular season at 16-15 overall, with an 11-7 mark in SEC play.
> With their 11 league wins, Carolina has now had double-figure SEC wins in three of the last four seasons, posting 11+ wins and earning a double-bye in the SEC Tournament in each of those campaigns (11 in 2016, 12 in 2017, 11 in 2019).
> South Carolina's seniors have been key to the Gamecocks' success in SEC play.  The trio of Chris Silva (16.3 ppg), Hassani Gravett (12.9) and Tre Campbell (8.1 ppg) combined for 37.3 points per SEC game this season.  Silva led the Gamecocks with 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, and Gravett (1.7 apg/43.9% from 3), and Campbell (3.4 apg/42.9% from 3) were key on the perimeter.
> Entering SEC Tournament action, Carolina has a combined seven Quadrant 1 and 2 wins thus far in 2018-19, and a Division I strength of schedule of 36 (as of March 12).  Carolina's Q1 wins include: at Florida, and home against Auburn and Mississippi State; while the Gamecocks' Q2 wins have come against Alabama and Arkansas at home, and Texas A&M and Georgia on the road.
> South Carolina has been riddled by injuries this season, having had six players miss significant time.  Most recently All-SEC freshman guard A.J. Lawson has missed the last three games and the final eight+ minutes of the Alabama contest with a severe low ankle sprain. Sophomore starter Justin Minaya has missed 26 games due to a knee injury, rookie guard T.J. Moss - who started the previous three games before suffering an ankle and foot injury - has missed 24 games due to injury, junior forward Maik Kotsar missed two crucial non-conference games - Virginia and Clemson - due to a concussion, and reserves Jason Cudd (16 games) and Alanzo Frink (7 games) have also missed games on the injuried list.  

> Former South Carolina standout Carlos Powell has been named Carolina's 2019 SEC Legend.  It was announced by the conference office on Friday, Feb. 15.  Powell earned four letters in the Garnet and Black and ranks eighth all-time in scoring with 1,541 career points.  He was part of Carolina's 2004 NCAA Tournament team, and helped the Gamecocks capture the 2005 Postseason NIT championship.  His senior season he averaged 53.0 percent from the field, scoring 540 points and averaging 16.4 points per game.  He led the Gamecocks in scoring as a sophomore, junior and senior, while also leading the team in rebounds per game his final two campaigns.  Following his career at Carolina, Powell has had a successful professional career on the hardwood.  

> South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is in his seventh season leading the Gamecocks and 12th season overall as a head coach in 2018-19.  Martin, the 2017 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year (CollegeInsider.com), led South Carolina to its first Final Four and a school record 26 wins in 2016-17.  In his 11 complete seasons as a head coach, Martin has led his teams to at least 21 wins seven times.  Martin is a native of Miami, Fla., and a graduate of FIU.
> Prior to his time on the sidelines in the college ranks, Martin spent 15 years in high school coaching in Miami, Fla., including the last seven as a head coach. He was part of five state championships as an assistant at Miami Senior High School (1985-93), before earning two titles as the program's head coach (1995-98). Highlighting Martin's stint as the head coach of the program were consecutive 30-win seasons and consecutive Florida 6A State Championships in 1996 and 1997, with his 1997 squad earning a 36-1 overall record and ranking No. 4 in the USA Today Top 25 Poll. He also served as the head coach at North Miami Senior High School (1993-95) and one season at Booker T. Washington High School (1999-2000).
> Among active Division I head coaches, South Carolina's Frank Martin holds the seventh-highest (tied with Michigan's John Beilein) NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.667) behind only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams, Kentucky's John Calipari, Kansas' Bill Self, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Villanova's Jay Wright.
> Martin led team's are 106-102 (.509) all-time in league play.

> South Carolina is in its 111th season of varsity basketball in 2018-19.
> Gamecock head coach Frank Martin is joined on the sidelines by assistant coaches Perry Clark (6th season), Bruce Shingler (3rd season) and Chuck Martin (2nd season).  Andy Assaley is in his seventh season as the director of operations.
> South Carolina is one of 13 DI schools nationally that have two or more former DI coaches serving as an assistant coach.  Perry Clark served as the head coach at Tulane, Miami (Fla.) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, while Chuck Martin was the head coach at Marist for five campaigns.
> South Carolina advanced to its first Final Four in 2016-17, which included posting its first NCAA Tounament win since the 1973 campaign when it talied a 93-73 win over Marquette in the First Round.
> The Gamecocks are 24-14 (.631) in neutral-site contests under the direction of head coach Frank Martin, including a 3-3 mark last season.
> Carolina was 15-18 (.454) over the course of the last three seasons in away contests (2015-16, 16-17, 17-18).
> Martin is 31-43 (.418) against ranked opponents as a head coach. His teams have four wins over opponents ranked in the top five, and two wins over opponents who are ranked No. 1.
> Senior forward Chris Silva was named to the Preseason All-SEC First Team by both the media and coaches; and also named to the Karl Malone Award Watch List, the Naismith Trophy Watch List and the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 Watch List.  He was also named a Senior CLASS Award Candidate.

> Nov. 6, 2018 - USC Upstate: Rookie guard Keyshawn Bryant erupted for a game high 21 points in his college debut vs. USC Upstate.  Bryant hit 8-of-12 attempts from the floor, scoring all his points in just 21 minutes of action.  
> Nov. 9, 2018 - Stony Brook: Another rookie had a standout performance early in the campaign, as freshman guard A.J. Lawson connected on eight shots, including a trio of 3-pointers, for 23 points, while dishing six assists with three steals vs. Stony Brook.
> Nov. 18, 2018 - vs. George Washington: After falling to Providence in its opening game at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tip-Off on Nov. 17, Carolina responded with an offensive explosion in the following day's win over George Washington, connecting on 34 makes from the floor, including 13 3-pointers.  Senior forward Chris Silva recorded his second double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
> Dec. 8, 2018 - at Michigan: Carolina battled No. 5/5 Michigan in Ann Arbor in early December, facing its first ranked opponent of the season, but the Wolverines closed the home win.  Senior leader Chris Silva led four in double-figures with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Carolina recorded 44 points in the paint against Michigan's lineup.  Junior forward Maik Kotsar (7 FGs) and Bryant (6 FGs) were also key to Carolina's offense in the outing.
> Dec. 31, 2018 - North Greenville: Carolina snapped a three game losing streak with a convincing win over DII opponent, North Greenville.  Prior to the matchup, the Gamecocks had fallen at Michigan, and in back-to-back home games vs. No. 5/3 Virginia and Clemson.  Silva (21) and Lawson (22) both turned in 20-point outings in the post-holiday home game.
> Jan. 5, 2019 - at Florida (SEC opener): Carolina trailed by 14 points with 11:05 to play, but the Gamecocks chipped away at the Gator lead, and a hail mary pass from sophomore forward Felipe Haase to Silva unmarked under the far basket resulted in a slam-dunk victory for the Gamecocks on the road.  Senior guard Hassani Gravett turned in a 22-point effort in the win, and Bryant was key in the comeback with three-straight buckets late in the second half.  Also impressive, Carolina held the Gators without a field goal the final 7:17 of the contest.
> Jan. 8, 2019 - Mississippi State: It went to overtime, but a dunk from Lawson with just seconds remaining secured the Carolina upset over No. 14 Mississippi State to improve to 2-0 in SEC games.  Five Gamecocks were in double-figures, led by Kotsar's career high performance of 25 points on 10 made field goals.  
> Jan. 16, 2019 - at Vanderbilt: Lawson scored 24 points, including the winning free throws, but Gravett was the star late in the game, scoring nine of Carolina's final 11 points in the game over the final 1:38 of the matchup.  The win marked Carolina's second on the road this season.
> Jan. 22, 2019 - Auburn: After a road loss at LSU, the Gamecocks rebounded with an 80-77 upset over No. 16/15 Auburn at home.  Silva posted a career high 32 points on 11 made field goals, and Haase scored the game-winning point on a corner 3 with 30 seconds remaining.  
> Feb. 2, 2019 - at Georgia: After back-to-back losses at Oklahoma State and to top-ranked Tennessee, Carolina rebounded with an 86-80 road win at Georgia behind 33 made field goals and a 56.9 percentage from the floor.  Silva and Lawson both scored 19.
> Feb. 9, 2019 - Arkansas: Carolina posted another comeback win at home, this time vs. Arkansas, and held the Razorbacks scoreless the final 3:11 to clinch the win.  Lawson had another big offensive performance, leading the Gamecocks with 24 points on eight made buckets.
> Feb. 19, 2019 - Ole Miss: A convincing 15-point home win over Ole Miss was Carolina's second straight after also winning at home the previous game vs. Texas A&M.  Carolina once again trailed by double-digits in the game, but a 16 point run in the first half would give the Gamecocks the lead for good.
> March 5, 2019 - at Texas A&M: A 71-54 road win at Texas A&M would snap a three-game losing streak for Carolina.  Silva scored 22 with a career high 17 rebounds, and Gravett added 17.  It was Carolina's second game without injured guard A.J. Lawson.
> March 9, 2019 - Georgia: A Senior Day win would cap the regular season for Carolina, and senior forward Chris Silva would come up big again, scoring a game high 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season.  The Gamecock D held the Bulldogs to just 11 made field goals in the contest.

> Carolina is 16-15 overall this season, including an 11-6 mark in home games, and a 7-2 record in SEC home games.
> Carolina reached double-digit SEC wins for just the sixth time, but the third time in the last four seasons, after the March 5 win at Texas A&M which moved the Gamecocks to 10-7 in SEC action in 2019.
> The Gamecocks' 11 SEC wins match the 1998 and 2016 teams for the third-most SEC wins in a season in program history.
> Rookie forward Keyshawn Bryant has put together a solid freshman season resume thus far.  The Winter Haven, Fla., native has 13 double-figure scoring games, including in each of the last three outings, averaging 14.7 points per game during the stretch.
> Senior forward Chris Silva has led or shared the team lead in scoring 12 times, in rebounding 15, blocks 22 and he has a team high 22 double-figure scoring games this season.  Over his last five games, he is averaging 17.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
> According to KenPom.com's Efficiency and Tempo data (March 12), South Carolina has played at the fastest offensive pace in the SEC this season, with an average possession length of 15.7 seconds (23rd in the nation).  That is faster than the noted up-tempo offenses of Arkansas and Auburn. It is the fastest pace that a Frank Martin-coached team has ever played at South Carolina.
> Rookie guard A.J. Lawson is fourth among freshmen in the SEC in scoring (overall games) at 13.9 points per game this season.
> Silva's 1.97 blocked shots per game (overall games), rank fourth in the SEC and 40th nationally.  In SEC play, he blocked 2.05 shots per game.
> Entering SEC play, Carolina ranked 300th nationally (NCAA stats games through Jan. 2) in 3-point field goal percent, averaging just 30.8 percent from beyond the arc.  In the most recent NCAA stats (games through March 11), Carolina is 81st nationally at 36.5 percent.
> Rookie guard A.J. Lawson (48-133), senior guard Hassani Gravett (64-155) and graduate student guard Tre Campbell (47-127) have combined to hit 159 of Carolina's 232 3-pointers this season, connecting on 38.3 percent of their attempts.
> Five different Gamecocks have registered at least 30 assists on the season, led by Lawson's 83 (3.0 per game).
> Senior guard Hassani Gravett has 20 games this season with multiple made 3-point baskets, including hitting four at A&M on March 5.
> The Gamecocks are 8-2 when having 15 or more assists.
> Carolina is 12-7 when making six or more 3-point baskets.
> Senior forward Chris Silva has a team high 61 blocks, which surpasses his career high for a season (51 in 37 games in 2016-17).
> The Gamecocks are 12-3 when outrebounding their opponent, including a 8-0 mark when outrebounding opponents in SEC play.
> Carolina is 11-3 this season when leading at the half.
> South Carolina returns seven letterwinners from last season's 17-16 squad, including senior guard Hassani Gravett and senior forward Chris Silva.
> Carolina welcomed nine newcomers to its roster this season, including transfers and six freshmen student-athletes.  Jair Bolden (transfer/George Washington/guard), redshirt-junior Raymond "Quad" Borup (r-junior/forward), graduate transfer Tre Campbell (transfer/Georgetown/guard), Keyshawn Bryant (freshman/guard), Jermaine Couisnard (freshman/guard), Alanzo Frink (freshman/forward), A.J. Lawson (freshman/guard), T.J. Moss(freshman/guard) and Nathan Nelson (freshman/forward).

The winner of Friday's contest will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the first quarterfinal matchup, which will feature the winner of the No. 8 seed Florida vs. No. 9 seed Arkansas matchup, against the Tournament's top seed, LSU.

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