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Michigan Opponent Preview: South Carolina

How They Are Doing So Far:

This is a far cry from the South Carolina team that went to the Final Four in 2017. The Gamecocks barely boasted a winning record last year and could be in a similar situation this time around. Coach Frank Martin’s team is now at 4-4 and it will be tough for this group to stay above the .500 mark with Michigan, Virginia and Clemson on the slate before the start of SEC play.

 

Last Time Out:

The Gamecocks had their first true road game at Wyoming on Wednesday night and came away with a 73-64 defeat. It was a tough game, but heading to Ann Arbor will be a little bit easier with that road game under their belt. South Carolina did get off to a good start in Laramie and went into the break with a 37-33 lead. The second half did not go nearly as well though despite the best efforts of A.J. Lawson and Chris Silva. Lawson led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds. However, he shot just 5-of-16 from the floor and it was that poor shooting across the board that stunted South Carolina’s second half production. Silva, a 6-9 senior, was the only other double digit scorer, adding 11 points and eight rebounds.

 

Who To Watch:

Lawson has quickly turned into the star of the backcourt. The freshman combo guard leads the team with 14.9 points and 3.4 assists per game and he is not afraid to shoot the basketball. He has connected on just 29.5 percent of his 44 three-point attempts and that needs to change. It was a big problem against Wyoming on Wednesday and it will be tough to beat anybody if Lawson and the rest of the team are that inefficient on offense. That happens with freshmen though and Lawson is getting more comfortable on both ends of the floor and nothing except game time can solve many of the issues.

 

Who Else To Watch:

Hassani Gravett has taken over the leadership role on the perimeter and he is doing his part by taking smart shots. He is shooting 42.4 percent from long range and 45.5 percent from the floor. That is pretty good for this team. On the year the 6-0 senior is averaging 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists. With Lawson handling more of the point guard duties, Gravett is getting more open looks and becoming more of a force offensively. He can handle the ball too and that has been very helpful when Lawson gets a little out of control.

 

Prediction:

Michigan is the clear favorite in this contest. The Wolverines have crushed teams like Villanova, North Carolina and Purdue so South Carolina is not going to scare any Michigan fans. There was a close call at Northwestern during the week, but getting back to the friendly confines of Crisler Arena will make a huge difference. This should be the toughest game on Michigan’s schedule until the end of the holidays and the start of Big Ten play, so a win here and Michigan should be 13-0 heading into the heart of conference play.

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