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The first bit of news South Carolina’s produced at the SEC Tournament is good news

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The first bit of news South Carolina’s produced at the SEC Tournament is good news

March 14, 2019

Frank Martin told reporters Thursday night that he anticipates A.J. Lawson returning to the floor Friday afternoon when the Gamecocks face Auburn in a quarterfinal game at Bridgestone Arena. Tip-off is approximately 3:30 p.m. The game will air on ESPN.

“The anticipation is that he will play,” Martin said.

Lawson, who was named to the All-SEC freshman team Tuesday, missed USC’s previous three games after spraining his left ankle late in the Alabama loss on Feb. 26. He returned to practice this week, including a Thursday morning session in Nashville. Lawson’s playing status will be confirmed, Martin said, after a Thursday night session.

Hassani Gravett, the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year, has replaced the injured Lawson in the starting lineup. That will remain that way Friday, should Lawson be available or not.

“I’m going to stick with the five guys who have been starting the last couple games,” Martin said of Gravett, Tre Campbell, Keyshawn Bryant, Felipe Haase and Chris Silva. “If A.J. had had two, three, four full practices under him, I’d probably go back to where we were before. But with all the unknown ... if (Lawson) was an older player that understood how to play after an injury or dealing with an injury — let’s not say after an injury — that’s a different dynamic. Being the first time he’s ever hurt himself in any way, we’re bringing him off the bench and will manage the game accordingly.”

Standing in its way is a guard-dominated, pressing Auburn bunch that could potentially wear down the thin Gamecocks. With Lawson, USC has available eight scholarship players.

“If A.J.’s available and he can give us a solid number of minutes,” Martin said, “and I feel he’s in a comfortable place in the flow of the game, then we’ll just manage that accordingly. But for some reason, even if he is available, he’s just not very aggressive out there ... and we gotta kind of limit ourselves to Hassani and Tre playing 36 minutes each, then we gotta figure that one out.”

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