Tale of the Tape: South Carolina at No. 9 Virginia

Photo by Jon Golden

No. 9 Virginia welcomes South Carolina to John Paul Jones Arena at 3 p.m. Sunday (ABC), as the Cavaliers try to stay perfect at home on the season and extend the JPJ non-conference winning streak to 23 games.

The Wahoos (9-1, 2-0 ACC) got a huge game from sophomore point guard Kihei Clark on Wednesday, as he led the team in scoring with 14 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds in a 12-point win over Stony Brook.

Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff combined for 25 points and 13 rebounds in the win over the Seawolves after a 10-day exam break. It was the eighth time in 10 games that the ‘Hoos have held their opponent to under 50 points this season (8-0). Under Tony Bennett, UVA is 95-2 when limiting foes to less than 50.

The Gamecocks (7-4, 0-0 SEC) have had an up-and-down start to their season and will be poised to spring a top-10 upset on the road. After dropping three of its last four games at the end of November, South Carolina has won three of its four December contests, including a 13-point triumph at Clemson last week.

UVA holds a slight edge in the all-time series against the former ACC-rival Gamecocks, including a 17-point win in Columbia last December.

There have been a few questionable outcomes for Frank Martin’s team so far — a 23-point loss to Wichita St. and a six-point loss against Northern Iowa in the Cancun Challenge, and home losses against Boston U. (78-70) and Houston (76-56).

As of Sunday morning, Virginia is 12th overall (1st AdjD, 170th AdjO) in the KenPom ratings, while South Carolina is 102nd overall (83rd AdjD, 152nd AdjO).

The Gamecocks are led by sophomore guard AJ Lawson, who averages 16.3 points a game and also leads the team in assists and steals. Lawson was a member of the SEC’s All-Freshman Team a year ago.

Senior forward Maik Kotsar is the only other Gamecock player in double figures on the year (10.1 ppg), and also averages a team-best 6.2 rebounds and has blocked a team-high 12 shots.

Jair Bolden (9.1 ppg) and Justin Minaya (6.8 ppg) have also started every game for Carolina, which just recently got sophomore forward Keyshawn Bryant (8.0 ppg), a four-star prospect out of high school that came on at the end of his freshman year, back in the mix after he missed all of November.

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