South Carolina will look for consecutive victories to close its nonconference schedule during a meeting with visiting Eastern Michigan on Friday at Columbia, S.C.
The Gamecocks (6-6) haven’t played since Dec. 22, when they ended a two-game slide with a 65-58 win against visiting Western Kentucky. Eastern Michigan (3-9) has had an even longer layoff, with a 79-77 win over visiting Detroit Mercy on Dec. 18.
The Gamecocks rallied from a five-point deficit with 9:43 left against the Hilltoppers. Meechie Johnson scored a career-high 25 points and freshman Gregory “GG” Jackson II added 12 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against Western Kentucky.
“Good win for our guys against a good team,” South Carolina first-year coach Lamont Paris said. “They got a good team. They’re athletic, they’re long. They challenged shots at the rim with a multitude of guys.”
Jackson leads the Gamecocks in points (16.6 per game) and rebounds (7.4), while Hayden Brown averages 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. Johnson averages 11.1 points and a team-high 3.8 assists per game, with Chico Carter Jr. chipping in 11.0 points per game.
Eastern Michigan snapped a three-game losing streak by ending the game on a 10-5 run after trailing 72-69 with 3:16 remaining. Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
Emoni Bates, who averages 19.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, had 19 points, six rebounds and two steals. Tyson Acuff, who averages 13.5 points and a team-high 3.1 assists per game, had 19 points, six assists and five steals.
Yusuf Jihad came off the bench to score a career-high 17 points and grab five rebounds. Noah Farrakhan, who averages 13.6 points per game, added 11 points and four rebounds.
“We needed this badly,” Eastern Michigan coach Stan Heath said. “We’re young. We’re pretty playing all freshman and sophomores. Obviously, it’s harder for younger guys because they get very emotional, up and down.
“It was really good for us psychologically. This win, I think, can catapult us in a lot of different ways.”
–Field Level Media