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Gamecocks hold hoops doubleheader

After a 12-day layoff, South Carolina will take to the hardwood again to face Appalachian State. The Gamecocks (6-3) will look to knock off any rust in the early minutes for the early tip at the Colonial Life Arena and start the post-exam portion of the schedule with a win over the Mountaineers (2-7).

Men's basketball coach Frank Martin

Opening tip
Tipoff: 5 p.m.
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Series: South Carolina leads 3-0
Television: Fox Sports Carolinas/Fox Sports South
Commentators: Andy Demetra, Eddie Fogler

Exams are in the books and practice schedules have been erratic but it’s time to take to the court and start the games again. The Gamecocks have four more nonconference games before the start of SEC play and will welcome the Jason Capel-led Mountaineers to Columbia.

“Exam week is just a stressful week,” South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said. “The pressure of having to perform well on one exam, the hours you have to study, and our guys are asked to study. Because of exam schedules, you can’t practice at the same time every day. It gets you out of routine and out of whack. What we tried to do, and we were real good, is we tried to really focus on trying to run better offense. It seemed to be productive as the week went on.”

Martin noted that it’s hard to build a practice routine during exam time because of schedules. Practices some days started at 9 a.m. and other days didn’t tip off until after the sun went down.

When on the court, though, Martin took a bit of a new direction for practice. The first-year head coach has always stressed defense first but he’s had a change of pace over the following week.

The Gamecocks have focused on the offensive end of the court this week and Martin likes the progress he sees. Understanding the philosophies, plays, and who shoots and when has been the focus and the players are catching on.

“At the end of the day, the plays don’t make the players, the players make the plays,” Martin said. “In order for the players to have success within the plays, you need five guys who understand the play. Offensive basketball is all floor spacing. If the floor isn’t spaced the right way, one guy can mess it up for everyone else. Good offensive teams take time. It takes a lot of repetition and understanding by the guys on the floor to understand the concepts.

“I think we’ve made progress. I could be wrong, but based on what I’m seeing, I think we’ve made progress.”

Women's basketball coach Dawn Staley

South Carolina put up its best offensive performance of the year the last time out posting a 91-74 victory over Jacksonville at Colonial Life Arena. The team posted 80-plus point games the first three times out but the 90-point mark was topped for the first time against the Dolphins.

The team may need to continue its positive offensive performances against the Mountaineers, which are trending upward, despite the 2-7 record.

Capel just got his point guard back for the first time this season in an 81-71 victory last week. The Mountaineers were picked to finish fourth in the Southern Conference this season.

“They can score,” Martin said. “I like their team. If you sit and look at their record, you’d probably say, ‘Ehh.’ If you study them a little bit, you step away and say they’re pretty good. At the end of the year, I think, as the year progresses, can become a real good basketball team.”

After the men’s team takes on the Mountaineers, fans can keep their seats for the second half of a doubleheader.

The women’s team, ranked No. 21 in the country, is set to take on top-ranked Stanford with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the men’s game will be honored and the arena will not be cleared.

The Gamecocks enter the contest at 10-0 and a victory would mark history for the program and head coach Dawn Staley. A win would mean the first victory over the No. 1 team in the country and it would also be No. 250 in Staley’s career.

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